A primary cause for cardiac surgery is when an artery wall in the aorta weakens and the wall abnormally expands or bulges as blood is pumped through it. This bulging is called an aortic aneurysm and can lead to a tear in the aorta.
An aortic aneurysm is a life-threatening condition and is the 13th leading cause of death in the United States. Research has shown that patients with large thoracic aneurysms are more likely to die of complications associated with their aneurysms than from any other cause.
An aneurysm can develop anywhere along the aorta:
- Aneurysms that occur in the section of the aorta that runs through the abdomen (abdominal aorta) are called abdominal aortic aneurysms
- Aortic aneurysms that occur in the chest area are called thoracic aortic aneurysms and can involve the aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch or descending aorta.
- Aneurysms that involve the aorta as it flows through both the abdomen and chest are called thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms
Multiple surgical approaches may be used in treating aneurysms.