The aorta is the largest artery in the body and is the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to all parts of the body.
The section of the aorta that runs through the chest is called the thoracic aorta and, as the aorta moves down through the abdomen it is called the abdominal aorta.
What Is An Aortic Aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the wall of the aorta. An aneurysm can occur anywhere in the vascular tree. The bulge or ballooning may be defined as a:
- Fusiform: Uniform in shape, appearing equally along an extended section and edges of the aorta.
- Saccular aneurysm: Small, lop-sided blister on one side of the aorta that forms in a weakened area of the aorta wall.
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 thru both the abdomen and chest are called thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms and thoracic aneurysm are not the only type of aneurysm. Aneurysms can develop in other blood vessels:
- Popliteal: an aneurysm in the artery behind the knee
- Renal: an aneurysm in the kidney; a very rare condition
- Visceral: an aneurysm in an internal organ and/or intestines
Symptoms and Causes
What are the Symptoms of Aortic Aneurysm?
Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm (affecting upper part of aorta in chest):
- Pain in the jaw, neck, upper back or chest
- Coughing, hoarseness or difficulty breathing
- Learn more about thoracic aortic aneurysm
Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (affecting lower part of aorta in abdomen):
- Pulsating enlargement or tender mass felt by a physician when performing a physical examination
- Pain in the back, abdomen, or groin not relieved with position change or pain medication
- Learn more about abdominal aortic aneurysm
Early diagnosis of an aneurysm is critical to managing the condition and reducing the risk of rupture. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
Find a Doctor Who Treats Aortic Aneurysm
Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.
Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, read more about our Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute outcomes.
The Aorta Center includes a multidisciplinary group of specialists in cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular medicine, vascular surgery, cardiothoracic anesthesia, cardiovascular imaging, genetics, ophthalmology and orthopedic surgery. These clinicians are experts in genetic and diagnostic testing, medical management and surgical and endovascular procedures. They are dedicated to providing care to patients with all types of aortic disease.
You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.
If you need more information, click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.
Becoming a Patient
Additional information about aortic aneurysm treatment options can be found at:
Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose your abnormal heartbeat and the most effective treatment method.
Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.
- Aorta Disease, Aortic Aneurysms and Treatment Videos
- All Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Videos
- Recovery at home
- Support Groups and Information
- Visit Health Essentials - Read articles on aneurysms and aorta disease and healthy living on Health Essentials
- Follow Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute webchats and news stories on Twitter*
- Subscribe to Heart, Vascular & Thoracic eNews
- VascularWeb (Society of Vascular Surgeons)*
*A new browser window will open with this link. The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on those websites nor any association with their operators.
Why choose Cleveland Clinic for your care?
Our outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.