Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA)
What is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA)?
The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It extends from the chest to the abdomen, where it branches into the iliac arteries. The iliac arteries carry blood to lower parts of the body and to the legs. Sometimes, with aging or other changes, a section of the aorta may weaken and begin to bulge.
This bulge can enlarge over time as the walls of the aorta become thinner and stretch (like a balloon). This bulge in the aorta is called an aneurysm.
Sometimes an aneurysm occurs in the part of the aorta that runs through the chest. This is called a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA).
How do doctors treat a TAA?
When an aneurysm is small, your doctor may want to monitor it with periodic check-ups. He or she may prescribe medicine to control your blood pressure and reduce the pressure on the aneurysm.
However, if an aneurysm becomes larger, or is growing rapidly, it has more risk of rupturing (bursting).
If your doctor thinks there is a risk that the aneurysm may rupture, he or she may recommend treatment. There are two types of treatment for TAA:
- Open Surgical Repair
- Endovascular Repair
The goal of all TAA repair is to prevent the aorta from bursting or affecting the blood supply to other areas of the body.
Important Note: Not every patient is a candidate for endovascular or surgical repair. Open surgical repair and endovascular repair both have advantages and disadvantages, depending upon each patient's condition and needs. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor.