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 procedureson 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.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss your need for aneurysm or other cardiovascular treatment, call the U-M Cardiovascular Center toll-free at 888-287-1082 or email us at