Aortic Arch Aneurysm

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An aortic arch aneurysm is bulging and weakness in the wall of the aortic arch. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, located in the chest, which delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aortic arch thoracic aneurysm can burst, which can cause life-threatening, uncontrolled bleeding.

Causes of Aortic Arch Thoracic Aneurysm

Atherosclerosis plays a key role in the development of an aortic arch thoracic aneurysm.

aortic arch aneurysm

Takayasu's arteritis and continuation of an ascending or descending thoracic aneurysm can also contribute. 

Symptoms of an aneurysm include:

  • Severe or dull pain in the abdomen, chest, lower back or groin
  • Sharp, sudden pain in the back or abdomen

Diagnosis & Treatment for an Aortic Arch Thoracic Aneurysm

Our specialists can diagnose you through a variety of exams, including:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Angiography
  • Echocardiography

Our genetic counselors evaluate patients with aortic pathologies and connective tissue disorders and screen their at-risk family members. Treatment at UVA includes:

  • Close monitoring: You may undergo regular screenings to check the size and growth of the aneurysm to determine if treatment is necessary.
  • Help with lifestyle changes: Steps such as quitting smoking, controlling diabetes and eating a low-fat diet to reduce cholesterol levels may help keep the aneurysm from growing.
  • Medication: You may receive medicine to reduce high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
  • Surgery: Surgeons may repair the aneurysm with a stent-graft, which they insert into the aorta through an artery in the leg. In some cases, open surgery (requiring a larger incision in the chest) may be necessary to repair the aneurysm by replacing it with an artificial blood vessel.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Aortic Arch Repair at UVA

An aortic arch aneurysm weakens the walls of the aortic arch. Aortic repair surgery can prevent the aneurysm from rupturing or bursting. W. Darrin Clouse, MD, discusses treating aortic aneurysms at UVA’s Aortic Center.