Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair (Open Surgical)

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. During this type of operation, a surgeon makes an incision in the chest and repairs the aorta by replacing the aneurysm with a tube called a synthetic graft, which is sewn into place.

Open surgical repair is typically performed under general anesthesia, and surgery takes about two to four hours. Recovery time can take about three to six months, depending on how quickly your body heals and other factors.
However, not all patients are suitable candidates for open surgical repair. At UW Health, an endovascular graft procedure is an alternative.