Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair (Endovascular Graft)

endograft stentIn 2005, UW Health Heart and Vascular Care surgeons were the first in the state to use a treatment for thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) which may present a less invasive alternative to major surgery for suitable candidates.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta which can cause the aorta's diameter to balloon to several times its normal size. Such an aneurysm may rupture, leading to extensive internal bleeding that is frequently fatal.

When treatment becomes necessary for a TAA, medical management is often the first choice - including reducing blood pressure, quitting smoking and lowering cholesterol in the patient's diet. However, medical management is not considered a "fix" for TAA - it just reduces the stresses on the aneurysm.
When a TAA is considered to be at risk for rupture, Open Surgical Repair may also be an option. However, not all patients are suitable candidates for open surgical repair. At UW Health, an endovascular repair procedure is an alternative.
Endovascular Repair for TAA
The endovascular graft is essentially a large fabric-covered stent (pictured) that is compressed and positioned through a catheter that enters the body through the patient's groin.
Once in place, the endovascular graft is expanded to create a new path for blood flow. The endovascular graft remains inside the aorta permanently through the use of a metal stent creating a tight fit and seal against the wall of the aorta.
Compared to major surgery, potential benefits of the endovascular graft include:
  • A shortened stay in the intensive care unit (typically just one day, compared to three or more for open surgery)
  • Shortened hospital stay (typically three days, compared to 10 or more)
  • A quicker return to normal activity (typically within two to six weeks after the procedure)
  • Less blood loss during the procedure