A thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is an aneurysm (weakened area of artery that bulges or expands) that occurs in the thoracic aorta. The thoracic aorta runs through the chest to the abdomen. The greatest concern with a TAA is that it may rupture. Aneurysms that rupture can cause severe internal bleeding, which can be fatal.
Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?
The vascular surgeons at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center have extensive experience with traditional open repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms, including repair of complex cases. They also are expert at minimally invasive repairs, and have experience in the use of all of the available stent graft technologies available to treat a wide variety of aneurysms. Ohio State's participation in national clinical trials helps direct the development of the next generation of stent grafts for the treatment of aneurysms.
What Is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?
The aorta is the body's largest artery and carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The thoracic aorta is the section that runs through the chest to the abdomen.
Disease and other factors can weaken the thoracic aortic wall. Pressure from blood flow can cause it to bulge, resulting in a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA). Approximately 25 percent of aortic aneurysms are thoracic aortic aneurysms.
Many people with this condition don't have symptoms. In fact, a thoracic aortic aneurysm can develop, grow and go undetected for years. If there are symptoms they will depend on where the aneurysm is and its size. Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the jaw, neck, chest or upper back
- Difficulty breathing
If you do experience any of these symptoms do not ignore them. It is critical that you notify your physician immediately.
What Causes a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?
While the exact cause is unclear, a thoracic aortic aneurysm may be caused by multiple factors that damage the thoracic aortic wall. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is thought to play an important role. Infection, injury to the thoracic aorta and genetic disorders, including Marfan syndrome, are also factors that increase the risk of developing a thoracic aortic aneurysm.
Other risk factors that contribute to thoracic aortic aneurysms include:
Factors and conditions that can lead to weakening of the aortic walls include:
- Genetic disorders
- Injury to the aorta, such as a fall or trauma
Aortic dissection is a condition that can also lead to thoracic aortic aneurysms. Dissection is linked to high blood pressure and occurs when blood flow forces a split in the layers of the aorta, weakening the aortic walls. Symptoms of a dissection include chest and/or back pain and can mimic a heart attack. If you experience symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care.