Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm

A thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm is bulging and weakness in the wall of the aorta that extends from the chest into the abdomen. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, and it delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm can burst, which can cause life-threatening, uncontrolled bleeding.

Are You at Risk?

Atherosclerosis plays a key role in the development of thoracoabdominal aneurysms.

Other risk factors include:

  • Age 60 or older
  • Male gender
  • Family history of an aortic aneurysm
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic disorders (including connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome)

Symptoms of Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm

You may have a thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm if you experience:

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

Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Diagnosis & Treatment

Our specialists can diagnose you through:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Angiography
  • Echocardiography

We'll work with you to develop the best treatment option for your needs. Treatment options include:

  • Close monitoring: You may undergo regular screenings to check the size and growth of the thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm to determine if treatment is necessary.
  • 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: Medication may reduce cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • Surgery: Your surgeon may use a stent-graft to repair the aneurysm. UVA is a pioneer in minimally invasive endovascular techniques (only requiring a small incision), but open surgery (a larger incision in the chest) may be necessary to repair the aneurysm.


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.