Woman with chest pain while sitting at home
Your aorta is the largest blood vessel in your body. When it leaves your heart, it first gives off the branch arteries to the arms and brain. Then it runs down your back and is curved like a walking cane. When an aneurysm (a bulge in the wall of the aorta) occurs where the aorta leaves the heart, it is called an aortic root aneurysm. This type of aneurysm often involves the aortic valve. If the aneurysm occurs past the aortic root but before the curve it is called an ascending aortic aneurysm. If it occurs after the curve the aneurysm is in the descending aorta. If your aneurysm is large (usually greater than 5cm) or if you begin to experience symptoms such as a dull pain in your chest, an unexplained cough or pain in your jaw, back or neck, you may be a candidate for surgery. 
Diagnosis & Treatment

Aortic Aneurysm

Cardiothoracic Surgeon David Caparrelli, MD, FACS explains the diagnosis and treatment of aortic aneurysm.

treatment and technologies

aortic root aneurysm

If the aneurysm involves both the aorta and the aortic valve, an aortic valve and root replacement surgery is performed.  The surgeon removes the enlarged section of your aorta and replaces it with a graft—a tube made of synthetic material the same diameter of the normal part of the aorta itself.  The valve is also removed and replaced with either a mechanical or biological valve.  A mechanical valve replacement will require the use of anticoagulants for life.

In some cases, if the aortic valve is not impacted by the aneurysm, a valve sparing aortic root repair is performed. The surgeon replaces the enlarged section your aorta with a graft. The valve is left intact.

ascending aneurysm

With aneurysms of the ascending aorta, they are treated in a similar fashion as with the aortic root except the valve and the very first portion of the aorta as it leaves the heart are left intact.  This is a slightly less complex procedure as the surgeon does not need to remove the valve or re-implant the coronary arteries.

The surgeons at Catholic Medical Center are experts in the treatment of aortic disease with outstanding results regardless of the extent or complexity of the aortic problem.

Descending Aneurysm

With aneurysms of the descending aorta, endovascular surgery may be the best approach. The weakened portion of the aorta is left in place. A small tube called a catheter is fed through a small vessel in your groin area to the location of the aneurysm. Then a graft is deployed which surrounds the aneurysm, protecting it from the threat of rupture. 

Meet our Team

Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery

If you need a cardiac surgery, you can access the most advanced cardiovascular and thoracic care in northern New England at CMC’s New England Heart & Vascular Institute. Meet our Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery team.