Aortic Surgery

The aorta is the body's largest artery. It carries blood out from the heart and extends through the abdomen. The aortic valve is located between the aorta and the heart’s lower left chamber. When open, the aortic valve allows blood to circulate out of the heart and then closes to prevent it from going backward and back into the heart (regurgitation).

Conditions that affect the aorta include:

  • Aneurysm (a weakened area in the aorta’s wall)
  • Dissection (a tear in the aorta’s wall)

Aortic surgery is often required to repair or replace a damaged aorta. The Orlando Health Heart & Vascular Institute surgeons offer personalized care using advanced expertise and leading-edge technology and surgical techniques for the best possible outcome.

Aortic Aneurysm Repair

An aortic aneurysm occurs when a section of the aortic wall develops a weak spot, ballooning or bulge. The potentially life-threatening issue can be located at any point in the aorta’s walls. Aneurysms in the abdomen are called abdominal aneurysms. When they occur in the chest, they’re called thoracic aortic aneurysms.

Surgery is often the only treatment for an aortic aneurysm. The two main types are:

  • Open surgery. The damaged section of the aorta is removed and replaced with a synthetic graft through an incision made in either the abdomen or the chest, depending on the aneurysm’s location.
  • Endovascular repair. A synthetic graft is inserted through a tube via an artery in the leg and threaded into the aorta, where it is used to replace the artery's damaged portion.

Aortic Dissection Repair

Aortic dissection happens when a tear occurs in the aortic walls. The tear allows blood to escape from its usual pathway into the lining of the aorta’s walls and separate its layers. If the pressure becomes high enough, the aorta can rupture, which is often fatal.

Aortic dissection does not always require surgery. Depending on the tear's size, blood pressure management through medication and lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of further complications and damage.

When surgery is needed to repair aortic dissection, the damaged section is removed and replaced with a piece of healthy blood vessel taken from another location in the body (called a graft). Surgical options include traditional open surgery and endovascular aortic repair, depending on several factors such as the dissection's severity and location.

Aortic Root Replacement

The aortic root surrounds the aortic valve and connects the heart to the rest of the body. Defects in the aortic root may lead to aneurysm, regurgitation or aortic dissection and require surgery to repair the damage.

Surgical options include:

  • Aortic root replacement. This procedure removes the damaged section of the aortic valve and aorta and replaces it with a graft and a mechanical or biological valve.
  • Valve-sparing root replacement. This procedure preserves the patient’s valve and does not require the long-term use of blood thinners.
  • Composite aortic root replacement. This procedure repairs the aortic root and replaces the damaged valve with a synthetic or prosthetic valve.

Thoracic Endovascular Aortic Repair (TEVAR)

Thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) is a procedure used to treat an aneurysm in the upper portion of the aorta.

TEVAR is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter (thin tube) is inserted through a tiny incision in the groin and used to place a graft on the aorta's damaged area. The process requires a smaller incision and less operating time, resulting in less pain, faster recovery and fewer complications.