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Glossary of terms


A

Aneurysm

A localized bulging of the aorta.

Aorta

The main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Aortic dissection

When there is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta and blood flows between the layers of the aortic wall, causing the layers to split.

  • Acute aortic dissection: An aortic dissection which has been diagnosed soon after the dissection occurs, typically within the first few weeks. The initial line of treatment for acute aortic dissections is to control the blood pressure with medications. Based on severity and symptoms, surgical or endovascular treatment may also be required.
  • Chronic aortic dissection: When an aortic dissection has been present for a longer time period (several weeks), it is called a chronic aortic dissection. If blood continues to flow through the entry tear and between the layers of the aorta, a chronic dissection may over time lead to the formation of an aneurysm or may cut off blood flow to organs, which may require additional treatment.

E

Endovascular

Inside or within a blood vessel.

Endovascular graft

A graft placed inside a diseased vessel without the use of open surgical techniques. The graft makes a new path through which the blood flows, to seal off (exclude) the diseased vessel.

Endovascular repair

Placement of an endovascular graft to seal off (exclude) the entry tear in the dissected area of the aorta without the need for open surgical techniques. The doctor makes a small cut near each hip (near the crease between the abdomen and thigh) to access the femoral arteries (blood vessels). Through these small cuts, the introduction system is inserted through the femoral arteries. The endovascular graft is opened in the aorta and seals off the entry tear in the dissected area of the aorta to make a new path through which the blood flows. Because it is common for the layers of the aorta to have separated below the tear, a stent may be placed in this area to gently support the wall to hold the layers together to they can heal.

Endovascular stent

A stent placed inside of a diseased vessel without the need for open surgical techniques. In the case of a dissection, a stent may be placed to reinforce the wall of the aorta.

F

Femoral arteries

Two blood vessels (one in each leg) that carry blood to the thigh region of each leg. Doctors can use the femoral arteries as a path to reach arteries within the chest and abdomen.

M

Malperfusion

Malperfusion means that organs and/or tissues are not being properly supplied with blood from the aorta. Malperfusion can occur if an aortic dissection is interrupting proper blood flow. Severity and symptoms of malperfusion depend upon how quickly the blood flow is interrupted and where it occurs.

Medical management

Treating patients with drug therapy. This can be supplemented with endovascular or open surgical repair if needed.

O

Open surgical repair

A type of surgery performed to repair a thoracic dissection. To reach the dissection, a doctor makes a cut through the patient’s breastbone or side of the chest. The doctor repairs the aorta by replacing the dissection section with a fabric tube called a graft. The graft is sewn into place and acts as a replacement blood vessel.

R

Rupture

A tear in the blood vessel wall that causes serious internal bleeding.

S

Stent graft

A metal and fabric tube placed inside a diseased vessel without the use of open surgery. The graft makes a new path for the blood to flow through, relining the diseased vessel.

Stent

Metal parts of the stent graft that expand toward the vessel walls and provide support to the stent graft.

T

Thoracic aortic dissection

A dissection in the part of the aorta that runs through a person’s chest.

V

Vascular

Referring to the vessels that carry blood.