Aortic Aneurysm

At Henry Ford Health, our team of specialists has extensive experience managing aortic aneurysms, no matter how complex. We provide you with lifelong care and draw on a range of treatments to keep you feeling your best.

Why choose Henry Ford for aortic aneurysm treatment?

We have a proven track record for delivering leading-edge aneurysm treatments. As one of only two dedicated aortic disease programs in southeast Michigan, physicians throughout the region refer their most challenging aneurysm cases to our team.

At our Aortic Disease Program, you’ll find:

  • Pioneers in aortic aneurysm treatment: Our vascular surgeons were among the first in Michigan to perform EVAR and FEVAR, minimally invasive procedures for aortic aneurysms. We continue to investigate new techniques and devices for less invasive surgeries and better outcomes.
  • Ongoing support: Nurse navigators with specialization in aortic disease guide you through every phase of aneurysm diagnosis and treatment. They coordinate your care with our team of specialists, schedule imaging and follow-up appointments, and answer any questions you may have.
  • Multispecialty approach: Experts in heart surgery, vascular surgery, cardiology and cardiac imaging work together to evaluate your condition. They tailor treatment to your individual needs with a focus on long-term outcomes and quality of life.

What is an aortic aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened area of your aorta that forms a balloon-like bulge. The aorta is the body’s largest artery, carrying blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

An aortic aneurysm can dissect (tear) or rupture (burst) and cause life-threatening bleeding. Early diagnosis and proper treatment reduce your risk of these complications.

Types of aortic aneurysms

The aorta spans your thoracic (chest) and abdominal (belly) regions of your upper body. Aneurysms can develop in any part of your aorta:

  • Aortic root: Connects the aorta to your heart
  • Ascending aorta: First part of the aorta that contains the coronary arteries supplying blood to your heart
  • Aortic arch: Curved section of the aorta with arteries supplying blood to your brain, arms, head and neck
  • Thoracic descending aorta: Extends down through the chest with arteries supplying blood to your lungs, esophagus and spine
  • Abdominal aorta: Extends from your diaphragm to the pelvis with arteries supplying the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver and other organs with blood

Aortic aneurysm symptoms

Aortic aneurysms usually develop slowly over many years, so you may not experience symptoms at first. Some aneurysms stay small, while others expand. As an aortic aneurysm grows, the risk of rupture (bursting) increases, and you may notice symptoms

Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm can include:

  • Chest pain or tenderness
  • Cough or high-pitched breathing
  • Hoarseness or swallowing problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upper back pain

Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm can include:

  • Back pain
  • Constant, deep pain in your abdomen or side
  • Lump in your abdomen
  • Pulsating sensation near your navel (belly button)

The following could be symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm, which is a medical emergency. Call 911 or go the nearest emergency room if you have:

  • Sudden, intense pain in your chest, abdomen or back
  • Pain in your neck, jaw or arms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate

Aortic aneurysm screening and diagnosis

Your doctor may recommend screening if you’re at risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), the most common type of aortic aneurysm. A screening is a test that detects a disease before symptoms appear. We use ultrasounds to screen for AAAs. Learn more about the importance of aneurysm screening.

You may need an AAA ultrasound screening if you are a male between the ages of 65 and 75 who smokes or has smoked in the past. Other risk factors for males and females include:

  • Genetic conditions such as Marfan or Turner syndrome
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol or another cardiovascular condition
  • Personal or family history of aneurysms

We often find aortic aneurysms during routine screenings or imaging exams for other conditions. At Henry Ford, our team uses the latest technology to diagnose and monitor aortic aneurysms. Learn more about our aortic disease diagnosis process.

Aortic aneurysm treatment at Henry Ford

Small or slow-growing aneurysms may not need treatment right away. In these cases, we often recommend close monitoring, medication and lifestyle changes. Larger aneurysms and those at risk for aortic dissection or rupture may need surgery.

At Henry Ford, we offer both open and minimally invasive aortic aneurysm surgery. As the most experienced aortic disease program in southeast Michigan, you’ll find treatments for complex aortic aneurysms that aren’t widely available. We specialize in treating aneurysms that are difficult to access and involve critical branching arteries.

Learn more about aortic disease treatment and our expertise in open aortic surgery and endovascular aneurysm repair.

Take the next step

Request an appointment with a member of our aortic disease team or use one of the numbers below:

  • Detroit or southeast Michigan: (844) 725-6424
  • Jackson or south central Michigan: (517) 205-1305


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