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As a leader in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, Tampa General Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute created its Aortic Disease Program to treat patients with all types of aortic diseases. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and is the main conduit through which oxygenated blood travels from the heart to the rest of the body. Because the aorta is such an important structure in the circulatory system, any dysfunction in the artery—such as a blockage, compression or rupture—can lead to serious medical conditions.

As such, the Aortic Disease Program team provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment protocols to manage patients with even the most complex aortic conditions.

What Sets Us Apart

OUR TEAM

Our team includes board-certified cardiac and vascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, vascular interventional radiologists, and many other medical experts. Our expertise allows us to diagnose and treat the most complex cases of aortic diseases.

HIGH VOLUMES
Tampa General Hospital is a high-volume center for aortic procedures, treating over 100 abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) cases combined and performing approximately 50 procedures involving the aortic root, ascending and transverse arch each year. These high volumes contribute to our ever-expanding expertise in treating all types of aortic diseases.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
TGH doesn’t just practice medicine, we define it. This is evident in our commitment as a world-class academic hospital to provide our patients with the most technologically advanced procedures that make surgery safer and reduce recovery time and hospital stays.

For example, our vascular surgeons are national leaders in treating juxtarenal aortic aneurysms using the Cook Zenith® Fenestrated (Zfen) stent graft, a procedure that only six other hospitals in the nation have the technology to perform.

CLINICAL TRIALS
Because our goal is to always offer the most advanced open and endovascular techniques to manage all diseases of the aorta, TGH physicians are involved in numerous new device trials as well as medical management trials. In particular, we are part of studies evaluating the efficacy of doxycycline to prevent AAA growth in patients and the effectiveness of a new, low-profile device used to treat thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA).

DISEASES WE TREAT

The aorta experts at Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute treat the following aortic diseases:

Causes of Aortic Diseases

The most common cause of aortic disease is having a health condition that affects the heart, aorta or nearby arteries, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Medial degeneration
  • Bicuspid aortic valve disease
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Connective tissue disorders

Having a genetic condition like Marfan, Turner’s or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or an autoimmune disorder could also cause aortic disease.

Furthermore, aortic disease can be the result of a traumatic injury, such as an auto accident. If you have high blood pressure or a history of cigarette smoking, you may also be at greater risk.

Symptoms of Aortic Diseases

The symptoms of aortic disease vary based on the type of disease you have. For example, aortic dissection presents with symptoms similar to stroke while an aortic aneurysm may bring about hoarseness and difficulty breathing.

Some common symptoms all aortic diseases share include:

  • Pain and tenderness of the chest, upper back or abdomen
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Leg or arm pain

Diagnosis of Aortic Diseases

Diagnosing aortic disease can be difficult, but the first step is to have a physical exam and discuss your medical history and symptoms with a doctor. This helps to distinguish if you’re experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke or if aortic disease may be at play.

Imaging tests will also be ordered based and can include:

  • Abdominal and intravascular ultrasounds
  • CT scans and MRIs
  • Transesophageal echocardiograms (TEE)
  • Angiograms
  • Duplex ultrasonography
  • Angiographies

Treatment for Aortic Diseases

There are two main treatments for aortic disease:

  • Medication – Often used to stabilize a patient before surgery, medication helps to reduce their heart rate and lower their blood pressure. It can also be used on its own, combined with lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and eating healthier.
  • Surgery – Open abdominal surgery and endovascular repair are two of the most common surgical treatments for aortic diseases. Learn more about aortic surgery.