Thoracic aortic aneurysm

Alternative Names

Aortic aneurysm – thoracic; Syphilitic aneurysm; Aneurysm – thoracic aortic

Definition of Thoracic aortic aneurysm

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The most common cause of a thoracic aortic aneurysm is hardening of the arteries (). This condition is more common in people with high cholesterol, long-term high blood pressure, or who smoke.


Aneurysms develop slowly over many years. Most patients have no symptoms until the aneurysm begins to leak or expand. Chest or back pain may mean sudden widening or leakage of the aneurysm.

Signs and tests

The physical examination is often normal unless a rupture or leak has occurred.


The treatment depends on the location of the aneurysm. The aorta is made of three parts:

Expectations (prognosis)

The long-term prognosis for patients with thoracic aortic aneurysm is determined by other medical problems such as heart disease and diabetes, which may have caused or contributed to the condition.


Shabir Bhimji MD, PhD, Specializing in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland , TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/2/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Aortic rupture, chest X-ray

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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