Tampa General Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center is a leader in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Tampa General Hospital as “high performing" in Heart & Vascular care, meaning we are ranked in the top 10% in the nation for 2023-24. Given the complexity of aortic pathology, the Aortic Disease Program was created to provide comprehensive, evidence-based and individualized patient care using a multidisciplinary approach. Our team of medical professionals have national expertise in the treatment of aortic disease using traditional open and innovative endovascular approaches. Clinical research is critical to our mission, which affords patients access to custom-made endovascular aortic devices through industry-sponsored clinical trials. As such, the Aortic Disease Program team provides comprehensive diagnostic and protocols from simple to even the most complex aortic conditions.
WHAT SETS US APART
Our team includes board-certified cardiac and vascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, vascular interventional radiologists, and many other medical professionals. Our combined expertise allows us to diagnose and treat the most complex cases of aortic diseases.
High Volumes/High Quality
Tampa General Hospital is a high-volume center for aortic procedures, performing over 400 thoracic and abdominal aortic procedures each year, over 100 of which are custom minimally-invasive fenestrated/branched endovascular repairs (FEVAR). Our goal is to deliver the highest quality of care for patients with aortic disease. The volume at our referral center helps us achieve this goal as national data has shown that both high-volume centers and high-volume surgeons lead to better patient outcomes after aortic surgery.
Innovation Technology, Research and Education
Tampa General Hospital is committed to being a world-class academic medical center rooted in innovative technologies, clinical research, and education. The Aortic Disease Program is at the forefront of innovation as the program utilizes new artificial intelligence technology and 3D modeling and printing to enhance the success and safety of endovascular surgeries. Through our clinical research initiatives that are presented at regional and national cardiovascular meetings, we help define the future management of aortic disease. Finally, through our postgraduate training programs, we are committed to training the next generation of aortic surgeons, a critical mission for the future delivery of healthcare in our country.
Diseases We Treat
The aorta experts at Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute treat the following aortic diseases:
- Ascending and Aortic Root Aneurysms
- Aortic Arch Aneurysms
- Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms
- Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
- Type A and Type B (Chronic and Acute)
- Penetrating Aortic Ulcers (PAU)
- Intramural Hematoma (IMH)
- Aortic Occlusive Disease
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:
- 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)
- Duplex ultrasonography
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.
Physicians in the Aortic Disease Program are national leaders in the field of aortic disease and thus have access to industry- and physician-sponsored clinical device trials. These devices are often the most advanced technologies offered in our country and help establish the future delivery of aortic disease management. Our physician-modified endograft program is one of the busiest in the country providing patients with complex aneurysms access to custom-made endografts, affording them a treatment option that they would otherwise not have.
Tampa General Hospital Among the Most Experienced at Treating Aortic Disease
Dr. Dean Arnaoutakis, Director of the TGH Aortic Disease Program and Vice Chairman of Clinical Research with the Surgery Division of USF Health, joins Tampa Bay's Morning Blend to discuss aortic aneurysms, the risk factors for developing them, and how they are repaired.