A descending thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the aorta, in the part that runs downward through the chest (thorax).
The aorta — the largest artery in the body — carries all the blood that is pumped out of the heart.
Approximately 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with thoracic aneurysms each year.
A thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) is one that is located in the area where the aorta crosses between the chest and abdomen. This type of aneurysm is less common than a thoracic aortic aneurysm.
TAAs and TAAAs are serious health risks because they can burst or rupture, causing severe internal bleeding that can rapidly lead to shock or death.
At UPMC, treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms is handled by experts from either the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery or the Division of Vascular Surgery.What distinguishes our program?
Descending thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAAs) and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms (TAAAs) often go unnoticed, yet early diagnosis is critical to managing the condition.
The larger the aneurysm, or the faster it grows, the more likely it is to rupture.
The risk of rupture increases when the aneurysm is larger than about twice the normal diameter of a healthy aorta blood vessel.
Only half of all patients with TAAs and TAAAs complain of symptoms, which can include:
If your doctor suspects a TAA or TAAA, you'll need to undergo a thorough physical exam and evaluation.
Following your exam, your doctor may order additional tests and procedures to help confirm the presence and size of the aneurysm.
These tests may include:
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to expect your test results and will call you when they're available.
UPMC offers a full range of state-of-the-art aneurysm treatment strategies for thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAAs) and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms (TAAAs) caused by:
Aneurysm treatment depends on its size and location and your overall health.
If your aneurysm is small and not causing symptoms, your doctor may choose to monitor your condition. Surgeons consider aneurysm repair surgery when the aneurysm becomes large.
Cardiothoracic surgeons from the Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease and vascular surgeons from the Division of Vascular Surgery offer treatment for descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms.
Learn more about heart and vascular treatments at UPMC.
Call 412-802-3333 to make an appointment or to refer a patient.
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