Blue graphic of skeleton with red heart and arteries.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. This blood vessel is in the chest cavity. A ruptured TAA can cause extreme back or chest pain, difficulty breathing and potentially fatal bleeding. Aneurysms seldom have symptoms before they rupture, so screening is important for those who are at risk.  

Risk factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Family history 
  • Arterial disease 
  • Advanced age 
  • Male gender
  • Trauma to the chest 

diagnosis, treatment and technologies

Screening for TAAs

TAAs are often detected during a CT scan or chest imaging that's been ordered for other reasons. Screening can be done for a TAA or as an outpatient procedure at multiple care locations. Our team of highly-trained physicians, technicians, and support staff can assess the best treatment options for you.

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Medicinal and Lifestyle Management

Less severe, smaller aneurysms can be monitored with regular, repeat screenings to check size and growth. Lifestyle changes to control a TAA include quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet, and, if necessary, taking medication to reduce blood pressure and/or cholesterol.

Interventional and Surgical Treatments

CMC has provides minimally invasive, stent graft procedures to treat aneurysms. If your TAA is severe, you may need a bypass procedure to repair the aneurysm with a new section of blood vessel, called a graft. Our skilled team will work with you to determine the right treatment for symptoms, condition, and lifestyle.

What is your vascular health?

Anyone can experience vascular problems, but smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, age, obesity and heredity can lead to an increased risk. Problems with the vascular system can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack, stroke and limb loss. Routine vascular screenings can help in the early detection of these potentially serious problems. CMC's New England Heart & Vascular Institute offers extensive vascular screening services. Your physician will determine if you are at risk and would benefit from screening.

What to Expect at a Vascular Screening

  • Your appointment will last about 45 minutes
  • We’ll use ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm and Doppler imaging to assess the carotid arteries.The ankle-brachial index (ABI) screens for peripheral artery disease by measuring blood pressure in the arms and ankles.
  • Results will be mailed to you within a week of screening
Cost: $50. Call to schedule your vascular screening!


Vascular team

Our vascular physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and support staff bring extensive expertise and skill to each procedure, and take a personal interest in your well-being.

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