Aortic Infection (Infectious Aortitis)

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The aorta is the biggest blood vessel in your body. It’s in your chest and abdomen. Smaller arteries branch out from it, taking blood to different parts of you. 

Infections in the blood vessel wall can cause swelling of your aorta. Inflammation of the aorta caused by bacteria is called infectious aortitis or mycotic aortitis. When your aorta swells, you may feel pain or get a fever. If left untreated, infectious aortitis can lead to aneurysms or a leak in your aorta, which can be life-threatening.

Aortitis Treatment & Diagnosis at UVA

We use antibiotics to treat your infection. If damaged, we may have to remove the infected part of the aorta using surgery. 

Several types of bacteria can cause an infection in your aorta:

  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus

Symptoms of Infectious Aortitis

The symptoms of aortitis might include:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Swelling or a mass in your abdomen
  • High white blood cell levels on blood tests

To diagnose your infectious aortitis, we perform:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Angiography
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Blood tests
  • Computed tomography (CT) angiography
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)