What is aortic aneurysm surgery?

Dr. Mark J. Russo, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

The type of repair of an aortic aneurysm will depend on several factors, namely the location of the aneurysm, the type of aneurysm, and the patient's tolerance for the procedure.

For an ascending or aortic arch aneurysm, a incision may be made through the breastbone (median sternotomy). For a descending aneurysm, an incision may extend from the back under the shoulder blade around the side of the rib cage to just under the breast (thoracotomy). For an abdominal aneurysm, the incision is usually in the abdomen. These approaches allow the surgeon to visualize the aorta directly to repair the aneurysm.

Regardless, surgical repair replaces the diseased aortic with a tube fabric graft. This allows blood to safely flow its intended course. 

For some aneurysms of the descending and abdominal aorta, endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) is possible. This procedure uses X-ray guidance and specially designed instruments to repair the aneurysm by inserting a tube, called a stent-graft, inside the aorta. In this minimally invasive procedure, the stent graft (comprised of a layer of impermeable reinforcement material enclosed by a self-expanding metal support mesh) is placed across the aneurysm site. The device replaces and reinforces the diseased aortic wall, ensuring continuity of blood flow. The potential benefits of the procedure include greatly reduced risk, a shorter hospital stay, and a more rapid recovery. Not all thoracic aneurysms can be repaired by means of TEVAR.

Continue Learning about Aneurysms


Aneurysms form balloons in weakened arteries of our bodies, potentially causing life-threatening problems such as a stroke. Although aneurysms can form in any weakened artery, they commonly occur in the arteries of the brain and i...

n the aorta, the central artery that extends from your heart through the center of your abdomen and chest. Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, can weaken the arteries, which deliver oxygenated blood from our heart to the rest of our bodies. The pressure of blood traveling through the arteries can lead to this balloon-like bulge. You can have an aneurysm for years without symptoms or problems. Others can have an aneurysm that pops, which can lead to a stroke if bleeding occurs in the brain. Ruptured aneurysms must be treated quickly, usually within minutes, or it can become deadly: about 50% of all ruptured aneurysms are fatal.

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.