Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm

A thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) is a type of aortic aneurysm, a condition in which the wall of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body, weakens and bulges. In a TAAA, the aneurysm extends into both the chest (thoracic) and abdominal regions of the aorta. If left untreated, a TAAA can be life-threatening due to the risk of rupture.


A thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) may not cause any symptoms in its early stages. As it grows larger, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chest or back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pulsating sensations in the abdomen: Some people may feel a pulsating or throbbing sensation in the abdomen caused by the blood flowing through the aneurysm.
  • Shortness of breath: In advanced cases, a TAAA can compress the lung and cause shortness of breath.
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs: If the TAAA is compressing the spinal cord, it can cause weakness or numbness in the legs.

It is important to note that symptoms of a TAAA may be similar to those of other medical conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor for proper evaluation and diagnosis.


The exact cause of a thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) is not well understood, but there are several factors that may contribute to its development, including:

  • Aging
  • Genetics: A family history of aortic aneurysms can increase the risk of developing a TAAA
  • High blood pressure, which can cause damage to the wall of the aorta
  • Smoking
  • Atherosclerosis: The build-up of plaque in the blood vessels can weaken the wall of the aorta, increasing the risk of an aneurysm
  • Previous aortic surgery
  • Certain medical conditions, such as Marfan syndrome and bicuspid aortic valve disease, can increase the risk of developing a TAAA

It is important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean a person will develop a TAAA. Additionally, some people may develop a TAAA without having any known risk factors.


Diagnosis of a thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) may involve the following imaging tests:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan which uses X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed images of the aorta and other internal organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan which uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves, and computer technology to produce detailed images of the aorta.
  • Ultrasound which uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the aorta

Treatment Options

Learn about the treatment options below:

Open Surgical Repair of Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Open surgical repair remains the gold standard for treating thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms. The goal of the procedure is to replace the diseased section of aorta to prevent aortic rupture or dissection, both of which can be fatal events. The surgical approach and incision depend on the location of the aneurysm. The damaged section of the aorta is replaced with a new tube (e.g., a synthetic graft).

Today’s surgical approaches balance the need to maximize long-term benefit by replacing as much diseased aorta as possible while limiting risk to the spinal cord and other organs.

Hybrid Open Endovascular Repair of Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm

This surgical technique combines open surgery with minimally invasive endovascular repair to treat a thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm. The advantage of the hybrid technique is that it combines the benefits of both open surgical repair and endovascular repair, potentially reducing the risk of complications compared to traditional open surgery. However, it is important to note that this procedure is highly complex and carries a significant risk of complications. Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of this procedure with you in detail before making a recommendation.

Monitoring and Medical Management of Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Medical management of a TAAA involves regular monitoring of the aneurysm’s size and shape and taking steps to prevent it from growing or rupturing. Monitoring typically involves regular imaging tests, such as CT scans or ultrasound, to track the aneurysm. The frequency of these tests will be determined by your doctor based on the size and rate of growth of the aneurysm.

Medical management of a TAAA also involves managing underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure or smoking, that can contribute to aneurysm growth. If appropriate, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications such as beta-blockers or angiotensin receptor blockers. It is essential to modify your risk for rupture by controlling high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and avoiding tobacco use. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or remove the aneurysm.

It is important to follow your provider’s recommendations and attend all scheduled appointments and tests to ensure proper monitoring and management of a thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm.  

Genetic Counseling for Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Certified genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with specialized training in genetics and counseling. They are available to discuss the potential role of genetics in the development of aortic aneurysms. The genetic counselor will review your personal and family medical history and may perform genetic testing to identify any potential genetic mutations that increase the risk of developing aortic aneurysms.

If a mutation is found, the genetic counselor will discuss the implications for you and your family members, including the risks of inheriting the condition and the potential for future generations to be affected. They will also provide information about available screening and monitoring options and the importance of regular check-ups.

Genetic counselors work with the individual or family to discuss:

  • The inheritance pattern, including the role of genetic and environmental factors.
  • The potential risks for the individual and their family members, including the likelihood of developing the condition and the potential impact on their health and daily life.
  • The available genetic testing options, including the benefits, limitations, and results of genetic testing for a thoracic aortic aneurysm.
  • The management options for an aortic aneurysm, including medical, surgical, and lifestyle interventions.
  • The psychological and emotional impact of an aortic aneurysm and the importance of support and resources for individuals and families affected by the condition. 

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment to discuss a thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm or any other cardiovascular condition, call us at 888-287-1082 or visit our Make a Cardiovascular Appointment page, where you may view other information about scheduling a cardiovascular appointment.