Aortic Surgery (Open Surgical Repair)

Contact Information

(608) 263-8915

(608) 263-0439


Internet Resources

American Heart Association

UW Health heart surgeons often use open repair - the standard surgical treatment for most aortic disorders. This type of operation takes four to eight hours. You will be asleep during surgery.


About Open Repair Surgery

  • For diseases involving the ascending part of the thoracic aorta, the surgeon makes an incision in the front of the chest and opens the breastbone.
  • For diseases of the descending thoracic aorta or thoracic abdominal aorta, the incision is made on the left side of the chest. If the disease is confined to the abdominal aorta, the incision is made in the abdomen or side.
  • The bypass machine does the job of the heart and lungs during the operation. If the operation involves the blood vessels that lead to your head and upper body, the surgical team may also need to cool your body and stop circulation altogether. This is called hypothermic circulatory arrest.
  • Once the aorta is exposed, the surgeon places clamps above and below the diseased portion. The surgeon opens the aorta, removes the damaged part, and replaces it with a fabric graft. The surgeon then removes the clamps, shuts down the heart-lung bypass machine, and allows blood to circulate again.
  • The incision is then closed and bandages are applied to the incision site.