Aortic Aneurysm

Illustration of 5 types of aneurysm: Ascending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA), Descending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), Fusiform Aneurysm, Saccular Aneurysm

The above Illustration shows three types of aneurysm and the two aneurysm shapes. The three types of aneurysm are Ascending Thoracic aortic Aneurysm (TAA), Descending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA), and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). The Fusiform Aneurysm and Saccular Aneurysm show the two types of aneurysm shapes.


What is an Aortic Aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the aorta, which can occur in the chest (thoracic aneurysm) or abdomen (abdominal aneurysm). Aneurysms are a concern because they weaken the wall of the aorta. Risk factors for an aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • A family history of aortic aneurysms and others

At this time no one knows how aneurysms develop or progress. We are committed through our research to find causes and improved treatment options. We do know that genetic factors and lifestyle choices can contribute to this condition.

People who have aortic aneurysms are at higher risk of aortic dissection based on the size, the patient's medical condition, and heredity. An aortic dissection occurs when the layers of the aorta pull apart and blood gets trapped between the layers. This weakens the aorta and may cause it to rupture.

Treatment for Aortic Aneurysm Includes Both Open-Heart and Minimally Invasive Surgeries

At the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, we have experts and pioneers in both open and endovascular surgical treatments.

Endovascular procedures on the aorta are minimally invasive and involve small incisions to access arteries versus an open surgery which requires large incisions. We have vast experience in endovascular treatment, and it may be a treatment option for you. However, we must evaluate each patient individually and consider all of the factors such as your aortic anatomy, current health, extent of the problem, risk factors, etc. to determine your most appropriate treatment plan.

Just because you have an aneurysm doesn't necessarily mean you are going to need surgery, but  medical management is necessary to treat aneurysms whether or not surgery is needed. Medical management includes risk factor modification such as blood pressure and cholesterol control, healthy eating, exercise with possible restrictions and taking medication.

If surgery is indicated, the criteria varies based on the location of the aneurysm, your individual risk factors, anatomy, and overall health and would be discussed with our multidisciplinary team to determine the best plan of care.

Research Brings New Treatment Options for Aortic Disease

We continue to forge the way, discovering new innovative and improved treatment options for aortic diseases. The University of Michigan is home to the International Registry of Aortic Dissection, and several research laboratories that are exploring the molecular etiologies of aortic diseases. Through patient participation and research, we are helping to advance the best treatment options for all types of aortic diseases.

Aortic Aneurysm Patient Education Resources

For information guides and illustrations about aortic aneurysm created by Michigan Medicine experts, visit the Aortic Aneurysm page on the Care Guides website.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss your need for aneurysm or other cardiovascular treatment, call us at 888-287-1082 or visit the Make a Cardiovascular Appointment page to learn what to expect when you call us.