How are thoracic aortic aneurysms diagnosed?

Thoracic aortic aneurysms can be hard to diagnose because they usually develop slowly and do not cause many symptoms. Unless the aneurysm has ruptured, a physical exam with a doctor likely will be normal.

Undergoing imaging tests for other symptoms or conditions is often how thoracic aortic aneurysms are detected. These tests can include a chest x-ray, echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart and part of the aorta), or a computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan will show the size of the aorta and the exact location of the aneurysm.

An aortogram or angiogram (a special set of x-ray images made when dye injected into the aorta) may also be performed, which can help identify the aneurysm and any branches of the aorta that may be involved.

This content originally appeared online in "The Patient Guide to Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery" from the Society of Thoracic Surgery.

Continue Learning about Aneurysms

Aneurysms: Deadly but Preventable
Aneurysms: Deadly but Preventable
We rely on our arteries to carry oxygen-rich blood to all the organs, muscles and tissues of the body. Every beat of the heart sends more blood throug...
Read More
What happens after an endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR)?
Brigham and Women's HospitalBrigham and Women's Hospital
Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) is a minimally invasive (without a large abdominal incision) pro...
More Answers
What are alternatives to an endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR)?
Mark J. Russo, MDMark J. Russo, MD
Alternative to EVAR include: Medical management, which consists of (a) routine imaging procedur...
More Answers
What are the symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)?
Dr. Joshua I. Greenberg, MDDr. Joshua I. Greenberg, MD
Some patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) have no symptoms at all and the condition is disc...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.