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Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

A thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is a bulge in your aorta that occurs when the aorta's walls are weakened. The aorta is a large blood vessel that extends from your heart down the center of your chest.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Tests:

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your chest and blood vessels. The pictures may show a TAA. You may be given contrast dye before the pictures are taken to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your chest and blood vessels. An MRI may show a TAA. You may be given contrast dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram:
    • A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a type of ultrasound that shows pictures of the size and shape of your heart. It also looks at how your heart moves when it is beating. These pictures are seen on a TV-like screen. You may need a TEE if your heart does not show up very well in a regular echocardiogram. You may also need a TEE to check for certain problems such as blood clots or infection inside the heart.
    • You will be given medicine to relax you during a TEE. Caregivers put a tube in your mouth that is moved down into your esophagus (food pipe). The tube has a small ultrasound sensor on the end. Since your esophagus is right next to your heart, your caregiver can see your heart clearly.

Treatment:

  • Medicines: You may be given blood pressure or cholesterol medicine to help stop your TAA from growing.
  • Repair: Healthcare providers may cut out the aneurysm and replace the cut area with an artificial tube. If the aortic valve (flap) also has a problem, it may also be replaced.
  • Stenting: A stent (tube) may be put in the portion of the aorta with aneurysm. The stent may strengthen your aorta and reduce pressure to the wall of your aorta.

RISKS:

Surgery may damage to your spinal cord, or cause you to bleed or get an infection. Too much blood loss can cause your organs to fail, such as your kidneys. You may need to have surgery again. If untreated, TAA may cause more serious problems. The aneurysm may get larger, burst, and be life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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