Aortic Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

Two surgeons perform heart surgery in an OHSU operating room.
We offer treatments for aortic disease not available anywhere else in Oregon, including deep expertise in endovascular aneurysm repair.

At OHSU’s aortic program, you’ll find expert, customized care for aortic disease. We can treat even the most complex cases. We offer:

  • Surgeons with deep experience in open and endovascular (less invasive) surgeries.
  • The widest range of minimally invasive treatments in Oregon.
  • Many aneurysm repairs done with local anesthetic. These patients often go home the day after surgery.
  • Access to clinical trials offering leading-edge treatments not available elsewhere.
  • Oregon’s best treatment for aortic dissection.
  • A high-volume center for complex cases, with excellent outcomes.
  • Oregon’s most experienced surgeons at complex open aneurysm repair.

    Diagnosing aortic disease

    Many types of aortic disease, including aortic aneurysms are often found by chance when imaging tests are done for other conditions. Rapid, accurate diagnosis is crucial in care for aortic dissection.

    If our doctors think you may have aortic disease, they use imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.

    Tests may include:

    Abdominal Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to see the part of your aorta that runs through the belly.

    CT scan of the chest: A computed tomography scan combines X-rays to show images of your aorta. 

    Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): This test uses sound waves to get pictures of the heart and aorta in motion. An ultrasound probe is guided down your throat and placed close to your heart.

    Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA): An MRA uses magnetic fields and radio wave energy to make images of your aorta and how blood is flowing through it.

    Treatment for aortic aneurysm

    We offer Oregon’s widest array of treatment options for aortic aneurysms, including access to treatments not available elsewhere in the state. Your treatment might include monitoring, lifestyle changes, medications or surgery.

    The right therapy for you will depend on:

    • Your age and overall health
    • Your aneurysm’s size, type, location and rate of growth

      Medication, monitoring and lifestyle changes

      If your aneurysm is small, doctors may recommend watching and waiting. You will have regular checkups and imaging tests to track your aneurysm’s size.

      Your doctor may:

      • Suggest lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or eating a heart-healthy diet.
      • Prescribe medicines to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol.


      Surgery is the best treatment if your aneurysm is large or growing fast. Our goal is to keep your surgery as minimally invasive as possible.

      Open surgery: Doctors make a cut in your chest or abdomen to reach the aorta. They replace the damaged section with a graft: a tube made of synthetic material. Blood then flows through this long-lasting graft. This strengthens your aorta and is a lasting repair. Our team has deep experience in open surgery, including for the most complex cases.

      Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR): This is a way to repair an aneurysm from inside the aorta. It may be done using local anesthetic.

      Using small cuts and special X-rays, doctors guide a catheter (small tube) through your blood vessels and place a stent-graft in the aorta. The stent-graft is a fabric tube covering a wire frame. It supports the walls of the aorta. Blood then flows through the graft without pressing on the aneurysm.

      Thoracic endovascular repair (TEVAR):  Like EVAR, this uses a stent-graft to repair an aneurysm on the part of the aorta that runs through the chest.

      Fenestrated endovascular repair: (FEVAR): Many smaller arteries branch off the aorta taking blood to other organs. FEVAR is used to repair aneurysms that are very close to branch arteries. We use special stent-grafts with customized openings and branches. The stent-grafts strengthen the aorta while allowing blood to flow through branch arteries to other organs. Our doctors have deep experience in this complex surgery.

      Hybrid repair: Sometimes a combination of open and endovascular surgery is used to repair an aneurysm.

      Aortic dissection treatment

      Our vascular surgeons work with heart surgeons, trauma, emergency and ICU specialists to provide Oregon’s best care for aortic dissection.

      Type A aortic dissection: A tear in the part of the aorta that leaves the heart and goes up to the arch. This condition needs emergency surgery and a team approach.

      Surgery involves replacing or repairing the torn aorta with a graft under cardiopulmonary bypass. Our cardiothoracic surgeons work with other specialists on open, endovascular, and hybrid surgeries.

      Type B aortic dissection: A tear in the part of the aorta that runs down through the chest and abdomen.

      Medication: Some type-B dissections can be successfully treated with medicines that lower the heart rate and blood pressure. We will monitor your condition over time using imaging.

      Surgery: As with Type A dissections, we repair or replace the split part of the aorta with a graft or stent-graft. Surgery may be open, endovascular or hybrid.

      Aortic valve treatment

      Learn how the Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s Heart Valve Program treats conditions like aortic stenosis.

      Living with aortic disease

      Smoking cessation: Our physician assistant can help you quit smoking.

      Nutrition services: Our dietitians can help you make a heart-healthy eating plan.

      Cardiac rehabilitation: We offer a doctor-supervised exercise and education program to help you recover from surgery or other procedures.

      Palliative care: Our palliative specialists can help you and your family manage anxiety, pain and other issues such as advanced directives of care.

      Learn more

      Aortic Dissection Treatments, Society for Vascular Surgery
      Endovascular Repair of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, Society for Vascular Surgery
      Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Treatments, Society for Vascular Surgery

      For patients

      Call 503-494-7593 to:

      • Request an appointment
      • Seek a second opinion
      • Ask questions


        Physicians Pavilion  
        3270 S.W. Pavilion Loop 
        Portland, OR 97239 

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        OHSU Beaverton Cardiovascular Clinic
        15700 S.W. Greystone Court
        Beaverton, OR 97006

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