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Thomas Gleason, MD

Thomas G. Gleason, M.D.
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UPMC Media Relations 

​UPMC Opens New Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease

Thomas G. Gleason, M.D., recruited as director


PITTSBURGH, February 12, 2007 — In an effort to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with diseases of the thoracic aorta, UPMC announces the formation of the new Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease, under the direction of Thomas G. Gleason, M.D., associate professor of cardiac surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Gleason was recruited from Northwestern Memorial Cardiovascular Institute.

The Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease, which is within the UPMC Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery Institute, offers multidisciplinary expertise for patients with thoracic aortic diseases throughout western Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. Cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists, vascular surgeons, radiologists, neurologists and geneticists—all with expertise in thoracic aortic disease—work together to offer an individualized and comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic plan. Each patient is carefully followed for the long-term management of their thoracic aorta.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body, carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all other organs. Sometimes the aortic walls can weaken and bulge (or dilate) to sizes more than twice normal. When this occurs, it is called an aortic aneurysm. Aortic aneurysms in the chest are called thoracic aortic aneurysms. Aneurysms can occur with aging, so-called “degenerative”, or they can be associated with a variety of hereditary disorders or syndromes like bicuspid aortic valve-associated aneurysm, familial aortic aneurysm/dissection, and Marfan syndrome. If left untreated, an aneurysm can rupture, leaving little or no chance for survival. One of the primary goals of the center is to prevent this lethal event by appropriate and timely intervention.

“The center will facilitate the highest level of care for patients in an integrated and comprehensive fashion. From the moment a patient or physician contacts the center, that patient’s evaluation and treatment plan will be carefully and efficiently orchestrated with the collective input of the best specialists suitable for the specific condition present,” says Dr. Gleason. “Another important goal is to foster research and development of improved and innovative technologies for treating thoracic aortic diseases.”

During the initial evaluation, patients are seen by a multidisciplinary team that includes specialists from different fields (e.g. cardiology, medical genetics, radiology and cardiothoracic surgery) to optimize and streamline care. Pre- and post-hospital care will be organized within the center to ensure continuity of individualized care.

“Establishing this center will enable us to take better care of patients because it breaks down typical administrative barriers that restrict access to and delay appropriate care. The center’s patient registry will allow us to carefully track patients’ progress and facilitate the prospective analysis of treatments and outcomes that will lead to a better understanding of thoracic aortic disease and its management,” said Dr. Gleason.

For more information about the Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease of the UPMC Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery Institute, including a complete listing of adult cardiac surgical services, please call 412-647-7070 or visit online at

Adult cardiac surgical services are available at UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Shadyside and UPMC Passavant, including adult congenital surgical repair at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

UPMC is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. An integrated health care enterprise, it has the medical expertise, geographic reach and financial stability that allow it to develop models of excellence, which are transforming health care nationally and internationally.

Based in Pittsburgh, UPMC is ranked 14th in the nation, according to the 2006 U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Hospitals” survey, earning it a place on the magazine’s prestigious honor roll.

UPMC is closely affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, which attract more than $400 million in National Institutes of Health funding, ranking seventh in the nation. Together, their combined mission is to deliver outstanding patient care, train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists and conduct groundbreaking research to advance the understanding of the causes and course of disease.


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