Aneurysm affecting chest and abdomen a serious condition

The aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body, extends from the chest down to the abdomen. A weakening in the aorta can cause an aneurysm (bulging or dilation) which makes it difficult for the valve between the heart and the aorta to close properly. Aneurysm involving both the chest (thoracic) and abdominal aorta is a particularly serious condition usually requiring surgery.

Symptoms of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm are easy to miss

Aortic aneurysms are usually slow growing and you may not have any symptoms at all. The larger the size of the aneurysm, however, the greater the risk of rupture. Thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms are often diagnosed during a CT scan or diagnostic test for some other medical condition. If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain in your chest, back or abdomen, or you have a genetic condition or family history of aortic disease, you may want to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Treating thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm

The main risk of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm is rupture, which can lead to massive internal bleeding and fatality. The aim of treatment is usually to relieve blood pressure on the aorta. This can be done with medication or with minimally invasive or open surgical techniques. In cases where the aneurysm is relatively small, ongoing monitoring (regular CT scans, ultrasound) and medication may be sufficient.

To schedule an appointment with a Lankenau Heart Institute specialist, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.