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Aortic Aneurysms

Baystate Health heart and vascular specialists offer the latest diagnostic tests and treatment options to prevent further damage or rupture of aortic aneurysms. We tailor your treatment based on the type of aneurysm, size, and its location. Types of aortic aneurysm include:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) – occurs in part of the aorta that passes through the abdomen. If left untreated, it may continue to enlarge and cause severe internal bleeding and possibly death. These are typically treated surgically by vascular surgeons.
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) – occurs on the aorta, passing through the chest. TAAs are less common than abdominal aneurysms and are typically treated surgically by cardiac surgeons.

Our vascular surgeons have been treating aortic aneurysms for decades and offer less invasive approaches, such as stent graft repair.

Diagnosis

Specialists in the Baystate Heart & Vascular Program quickly and accurately detect aortic aneurysm using advanced technology. Our diagnostic tests include:

  • Angiogram — X-ray using a special dye and a camera to take pictures of the blood flow in your arteries
  • CT scan — Special type of X-ray that takes a series of pictures and transfers them to a computer so your doctor can see a cross-section of that part of your body
  • MRI — Technique using magnetic energy and radio waves rather than X-ray to produce a detailed "picture" of parts of the body
  • Ultrasound — Non-invasive test using high-frequency sound waves to take a picture of the inside of your body

Treatment

An aneurysm is a widened and weakened area of a blood vessel.  Over time that area can get bigger and rupture. If an aneurysm has been diagnosed but is under a certain size, your treatment team may decide to watch and wait.

Once an aneurysm reaches a certain size, surgical repair might be needed. In emergency cases, aneurysms can rupture and become life-threatening. No matter the situation, you want the most experienced surgical team on call.

Aneurysms are repaired or replaced with synthetic grafts or your own veins to bypass the widened or weakened area. Aneurysm repairs can be done either surgically or by using special catheters, stents, and grafts.

Our surgeons decide on a case-by-case basis which type of surgery is right for you. We have years of experience in repairing aneurysms through traditional open surgery. You may also be a candidate for endovascular stent graft. This is a minimally invasive procedure that results in:

  • Fewer days spent in the hospital
  • Quicker recovery
  • Less pain