If you have a disease or condition that affects the aorta, getting treatment is very important. The right treatment for you depends on:
- Your specific disease or condition
- Your age, health and other factors
The experts at OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute are familiar with all your aortic treatment options, from abdominal (stomach) to thoracic (chest) conditions. We take time to talk with you and your primary health care provider about the best options.
How is aortic disease treated?
Doctors treat aortic diseases and conditions with regular checkups, medication, traditional surgery and minimally invasive surgery.
Types of aortic disease care
- Medical monitoring means having your aneurysm checked regularly by a doctor who specializes in aortic diseases. Doctors do this for certain aneurysms, such as small ones. It is also sometimes done when the inner wall of the aorta is torn. (Doctors call a torn aorta an “aortic dissection.”) Your doctor checks the aorta for signs the problem is changing or getting larger. You usually take medicines to help keep the condition from getting worse.
- Open aortic surgery is treatment done for an aneurysm that is so large it might burst (rupture) or one that already has. This surgery means your doctor makes an incision (cut) directly over the area that needs care. He or she opens the area and treats the problem. Treating an aneurysm this way is called “open aneurysm repair”.
- Endovascular surgery for complex aortic conditions -- Many aneurysms are a bulge in the wall of the aorta. But some are more complicated. For example, there may also be problems in major arteries that branch out from the aorta.
Doctors have started to treat many aneurysms with “minimally invasive surgery.” Minimally invasive surgery does not open the body the same way as open surgery. Your doctor makes a much smaller incision, or sometimes several small incisions. Then, your doctor puts tiny instruments through these incisions and does the procedure. Because the incision is much smaller, people often recover faster from minimally invasive surgery. This type of surgery is called “endovascular surgery” when it is done on a blood vessel.
Your doctor places a small piece of material called a “stent” in the aorta during most endovascular surgery. The stent fixes the problem by supporting the aorta.
Types of endovascular surgery include:
- EVAR – Endovascular aortic aneurysm repair.
- FEVAR – Fenestrated endovascular aortic aneurysm repair.
- TEVAR – Thoracic aortic endovascular stent graft.
Combination treatments and techniques if you need them
The doctors at OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s aortic program are highly experienced at treating aortic disease with stents in endovascular surgery. They can also combine a stent and open surgery to repair a damaged aorta. Doctors may replace a damaged aorta with natural or artificial materials, depending on what works best for you.
If the valve that lets blood flow towards the aorta (called the “aortic valve”) is damaged, they can repair it with an artificial valve or one made from natural material.
Keeping you as safe as possible during surgery
When your doctor operates on the aorta with open or minimally invasive surgery, it is important to keep blood flowing correctly to the rest of your body, so you stay safe during surgery. The OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute has the most advanced technology available to make sure your heart, lungs and the rest of your body are protected during these delicate procedures.
Treatments available only at OHSU
The doctors at OHSU’s Knight Cardiovascular Institute offer treatments that may not be available elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest. These treatments include clinical trials for new graft devices.
OHSU is also bringing new treatments to Pacific Northwest. Please ask your doctor for more information.