Thoracic has to do with the chest (thorax). The aorta is the main blood vessel (artery) that carries blood away from your heart to the rest of your body. An aneurysm is a bulge in an artery wall. A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the part of your aorta that passes through your chest.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms may cause pain, coughing, and wheezing
If the aneurysm bursts, blood flows out and you have terrible pain and low blood pressure
If the aneurysm bursts, you'll die if you don't have surgery
Doctors often find an aneurysm by accident when they do an imaging test (such as an x-ray or CT scan) for another problem
Doctors try to fix aneurysms with surgery before the aneurysm bursts
You may not have symptoms, even if your aneurysm is very big.
Sometimes, the aneurysm presses on nearby organs, nerves, or muscles and causes symptoms, such as:
If your aneurysm bursts, symptoms include:
Terrible pain high in your back
Pain in your belly area, chest, and arms
A sudden, dangerous drop in your blood pressure (shock)
You'll die if your aneurysm bursts and you don't get treatment.
Doctors ask about your symptoms or may see signs of an aneurysm during a physical exam, such as:
An X-ray taken for another reason may show an aneurysm.
Doctors will do imaging tests to see how big and where exactly the aneurysm is, such as:
Doctors will check on the size of your aneurysm every 6 to 12 months with a CT scan.
If your aneurysm is small, doctors may have you:
If you have a larger aneurysm, you'll need surgery.
Doctors may do surgery to insert a tube (graft) into your aorta to repair the aneurysm. Two types of surgery are possible. Doctors may cut open your chest to insert the graft. Or they may be able to put the graft in your aorta by going through an artery in your upper leg. Which surgery you have depends on your age, health, and where your aneurysm is in your aorta.
If your aneurysm bursts or is about to burst, emergency surgery to fix it may save your life. Without surgery, you'll die.