Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
A thoracic aortic aneurysm is similar to an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) except that the aneurysm is located in the chest (thorax).
Similar to an AAA, most patients have no symptoms until the aneurysm begins to leak or expand. Most non-leaking thoracic aortic aneurysms are detected by tests, usually a chest X-ray or a chest CT scan. Chest or back pain may indicate expansion or leakage of the aneurysm, which requires emergency care.
Many tests are used to diagnose a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Usually, more than one test is done before a definitive diagnosis can be made. These tests may include:
- Physical examination and patient history
- Chest X-ray
- Chest CT scan
The decision to treat a thoracic aneurysm is based on size and symptoms. Small aneurysms with no symptoms may be watched carefully, and followed with imaging tests, such as a CT scan, at regular intervals.
Once an aneurysm reaches a certain size, the risk of rupture increases and therefore treatment is recommended. Treatment options are:
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