Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

Thoracic aortic aneurysm is a ballooning, weakened area in the upper portion of the aorta. It may also be called thoracic aneurysm and aortic dissection (TAAD) because an aneurysm can lead to a tear in the artery wall and can cause fatal bleeding. Slow-growing and small thoracic aortic aneurysms may not ever rupture, but fast-growing, large ones may.

Cardiovascular surgeons at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute are leaders in using advanced diagnostic technology and therapeutic intervention to diagnose and treat thoracic aortic aneurysms and lower your risk for blood clots.

Aortic aneurysm types

An aneurysm is a type of aortic disease that causes bulging or weakening in the artery wall. There are several types of aortic aneurysms, including:

Ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA)

This type of aneurysm is a bulging present in the part of the aorta that extends from the top of the heart’s left ventricle.

Descending thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA)

A descending TAA is bulging or weakness in the part of the aorta located in the back of the chest cavity.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)

An AAA is an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta located in the abdomen. This major blood vessel is responsible for supplying blood to your legs.

Thoracic aortic aneurysm symptoms

Symptoms of a thoracic aneurysm may include:

  • Pain in the jaw, neck, chest, or upper back.
  • Wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath caused by pressure on the windpipe.
  • Hoarseness in the voice.
  • Trouble swallowing.

Anyone experiencing sudden or severe pain should seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosing thoracic aortic aneurysms

Advanced cardiovascular imaging capabilities facilitate performing even the most intricate and challenging cardiovascular procedures. Your doctor may order one or more of these tests:

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

This scan uses radio waves and magnets to create detailed images and videos of your heart’s chambers, valves, and blood vessels in motion. Learn more about cardiovascular imaging.

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan

A series of X-rays taken from different angles provide detailed images of your heart.

Real-time 3D imaging

Imaging that allows physicians to see internal organs and blood vessels from different angles with precise anatomical detail.

Thoracic aortic aneurysms treatment

Treatment for aortic disease depends on your specific health situation but could include:

Thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair (TEVAR)

Thoracic aortic endovascular repair (TEVAR) is a minimally invasive alternative to major open surgery used for thoracic aortic aneurysm repair. In this procedure, a stent graft is inserted into the aneurysm through small incisions in the groin. This doesn’t require a large incision, allowing patients to usually recover within four weeks.

Open TAA surgery

Open thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery is the traditional method used to repair a thoracic aortic aneurysm. During this procedure, the chest and abdomen are opened so the doctor can replace that weakened aorta with a graft. This method typically requires two to three months’ recovery time.

Life after thoracic aortic aneurysm repair

Most patients will return to their regular activities six weeks after surgery. For the best results, patients should stick to their treatment plan and make a few lifestyle changes, such as incorporating regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.

On average, life expectancy after thoracic aortic aneurysm is over five years. 59% of patients that had a repair lived 10 years after the surgery.

Thoracic aortic aneurysm care at AHN: Why choose us?

Our team is known for providing exceptional heart disease care. Here, you benefit from:

Personalized treatment

Our team taps the expertise of doctors from different fields. We develop a treatment plan specific to your health condition and needs. AHN participates in clinical trials for carotid artery stenting and new therapies at the Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Depth of expertise

Cardiovascular surgeons at (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute are leaders in performing thoracic endovascular aortic aneurysm repair (TEVAR) and have years of experience with procedures such as aortic arch, ascending trifurcated graft, valve-sparing aortic root, bicuspid aortic valve, elephant trunk, thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair, complicated Type B dissection management, and profound hypothermic circulatory arrest.

Contact us


If you have not been formally diagnosed yet, call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 to schedule an appointment with a general cardiologist to be evaluated.

Seeking a second opinion

If you’re already diagnosed with a thoracic aortic aneurysm and you are seeking a second opinion, call (412) 359-8820 to schedule a consultation with our Aortic Disease Program.

Connect with the Aortic Disease Program

To schedule a consultation with our Aortic Disease Program, call (412) 359-8820 to connect with our program coordinator.

Scheduling a procedure

If you have a referral to schedule a procedure, contact the team at the facility where you want to have the procedure completed:

Call 412 (DOCTORS) (412) 362-8677 to request an appointment with AHN cardiovascular services.

Allegheny General Hospital
320 East North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(412) 359-8820

Forbes Hospital
2570 Haymaker Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(412) 858-7088

Jefferson Hospital
565 Coal Valley Road
Jefferson Hills, PA 15025

(412) 469-7900

Saint Vincent Hospital
232 West 25th Street
Erie, PA 16544

(814) 453-7767