Aortic Monitoring Process
- Known aortic disease or aneurysm
- A family history of aortic disease or aneurysm
- High blood pressure or cardiovascular disease
- Any of the above disorders, combined with symptoms such as shortness of breath, or back or chest pain
Your initial evaluation will consist of a physical examination and additional tests. This will determine whether you have an aneurysm - and if so, its type, size and location. You may receive chest X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
UW Health radiologists use state-of-the-art technology to capture extremely detailed three-dimensional images of the aorta. Images like the one pictured are highly accurate and do not require any invasive procedure.
After we have assessed your aorta, we will ask you to return every six to 12 months for a follow-up visit. At each visit, we will determine whether your aneurysm is expanding, or whether there are any other physical changes in your aorta.
We will also work with you and your primary care physician to manage other health issues that may cause your aneurysm to get worse. These include helping you quit smoking, control your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol levels.
If you have other diseases, such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, or diseases of the blood vessels that lead to the brain (cerebrovascular disease), we will also monitor their progression.
Based on the results of each visit, we will determine what type of medical or surgical intervention is necessary. General indicators for surgery include:
- Rapid expansion of the aorta (more than 0.5 centimeters per year)
- An aneurysm with a diameter greater than 5 centimeters (for women) or 5.5 centimeters (for men)
- Physical changes in the aortic wall that indicate swelling, inflammation or leaking
- Pain associated with the aneurysm