An ascending aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the portion of the aorta closest to the heart.
The ascending aorta begins at the heart's left ventricle and extends to the aortic arch, or the bend in the aorta. The arch of the aorta gives off branches to the head and arms.
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute's Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease treats a full range of disorders and diseases affecting the aorta, such as ascending and aortic arch aneurysms and aortic dissection. Depending on the severity of your condition, our experts may recommend surgical repair or stenting for treatment.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Aneurysms (bulging of the aorta) occur because of molecular and connective tissue changes in the wall of the aorta. These changes sometimes cause atherosclerosis and other times cystic medical degeneration (a breakdown of the muscular layer in the aorta), resulting in aneurysms.
Ascending aortic aneurysms are the second most common aortic aneurysms, normally found in people in their 60s and 70s. However, many patients who are predisposed to developing aneurysms can have these earlier in their lives.
Risk factors for ascending aortic aneurysms include:
Aortic aneurysms are dangerous because they may overstretch the aorta, causing it to burst and spill blood outside of the aorta.
Because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood, a ruptured aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding, which may require immediate surgical attention, such as aortic repair. If the ascending or aortic arch aneurysm has not ruptured, your vascular surgeon may recommend surgery or implanting a stent to help reduce the chance of rupture.
The UPMC Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease, a center of excellence at the Heart and Vascular Institute treats a full range of disorders and diseases affecting the aorta, such as aneurysms and aortic dissection.What Distinguishes Our Center?
In most cases, doctors discover ascending and aortic arch aneurysms during exams or tests for other medical problems.
Most people with ascending and aortic arch aneurysms do not have any symptoms.
Some may experience:
If your UPMC heart and vascular doctor suspects an ascending or aortic arch aneurysm during a physical exam, he or she will confirm the diagnosis by:
Diagnosing an ascending or aortic arch aneurysm and identifying proper treatment can be dependent on the size of the aneurysm. Additional tests to determine the size and extent of the aneurysm, include:
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to expect your test results and will call you when they're available.
Aneurysms in the ascending aorta and aortic arch usually require immediate surgery.
UPMC's Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease offers a full range of state-of-the-art treatment strategies for aortic aneurysms.
Our cardiothoracic surgeons routinely perform:
Treatment strategies for ascending and aortic arch aneurysms include:
An aortic aneurysm repair is a surgical treatment that involves removing the portion of the aorta that contains the aneurysm and replacing it with a mesh graft. During an aortic aneurysm repair, the aortic valve may also be affected and need to be reconstructed, replaced, or repaired.
Stenting includes inserting a stent-graft — a polyester tube covered by a tubular metal web — through a small incision in the upper thigh into the aorta. This is done through an X-ray, which helps guide the stent-graft through the aorta to the aneurysm site.
After the stent is in place, blood flows through the stent-graft instead of into the aneurysm, eliminating the chance of rupture.
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers educational information and videos about ascending and aortic arch aneurysms and other heart and vascular diseases and treatments.
Many people find these resources helpful in answering their questions about their condition and preparing them for their procedure or diagnostic test.
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