Aortic Disease Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of an enlarged aorta or other aortic diseases means we can intervene sooner and reduce the risk of life-threatening complications. In the Aortic Disease Program at Henry Ford Health, a multispecialty team uses advanced cardiac imaging to evaluate, monitor and treat all types of aortic conditions.

Expert aortic disease diagnosis at Henry Ford

We have one of the most experienced aortic disease programs in Michigan and the nation. As a regional referral center, our specialists routinely evaluate complex aneurysms, dissections and other challenging aortic conditions.

Our multispecialty Aortic Disease Program offers:

  • Convenient access: We have imaging services and heart clinics across southeast and south central Michigan. Our experts also offer virtual consultations and can review your imaging scans with you by phone, so you spend less time traveling.
  • Care navigation: Dedicated nurse navigators guide you through diagnosis, treatment and beyond. They help you schedule imaging exams, make follow-up appointments and coordinate care with your cardiologist or surgeon.
  • Multispecialty approach: A heart surgeon, vascular surgeon and cardiologist and work together to review your case. Our aortic disease team consults with interventional radiologists, geneticists and other experts as needed to give you an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosing aortic aneurysms and dissections: what to expect

When you come to our Aortic Disease Program, we perform a comprehensive evaluation to learn more about your condition and how to treat it.

Our experts do a complete review of your health history, including other medical conditions you may have. We also evaluate lifestyle factors that can affect your condition. Smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk of complications from aortic aneurysms or aortic dissections.

Next, we review your imaging scans to determine the best type of specialist for your needs. If you have a small or slow-growing aneurysm that only needs monitoring, you receive care from our cardiologist. People with larger aneurysms at risk for dissection (tearing) or rupture (bursting) meet with a vascular surgeon or heart surgeon.

Learn more about aortic disease treatment at Henry Ford.

Advanced diagnostic tests for aortic aneurysms and other aortic diseases

We use imaging exams to evaluate the size and location of aortic aneurysms and dissections. The most common tests for aortic diseases include:

  • CT scan: A heart CT scan uses X-rays and sometimes contrast dye to create 3D images of your heart and blood vessels. Henry Ford offers a special type of scan called ECG-gated CT angiography. This scan captures images of your aorta between heartbeats, avoiding imaging inaccuracies due to the heart’s movement.
  • MRI: A heart MRI uses magnets, radio waves and sometimes contrast dye to produce pictures of your aorta. MRI does not use X-rays so there’s less radiation exposure than with CT scans. MRI may be a safer option if you are pregnant or need frequent scans to monitor the growth of an aneurysm.
  • Ultrasound: We may use an aortic ultrasound to monitor an enlarged aorta or aortic aneurysm if you don’t need treatment right away. Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm if you have certain risk factors.

We recommend additional tests if you have an aortic aneurysm as well as aortic valve disease, coronary artery disease or another type of heart problem. Other tests may include:

  • Echocardiogram, to measure how blood flows through your heart and blood vessels
  • Heart catheterization, to find blocked or narrowed blood vessels
  • Intravascular ultrasound, to locate dissections or plaque buildup in your aorta
  • Stress test, to make sure your heart is healthy enough for surgery

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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