Thoracic/ Abdominal Aortic Diseases

An aortic aneurysm is a permanent and irreversible dilatation of aorta by at least 50% of the normal diameter. Aneurysm can occur in both thoracic and abdominal aorta segments. Progressive weakening and ballooning of the affected aortic wall may result in ruptured if not treated in time. Most unruptured aortic aneurysms have no symptoms. Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) may be palpable on physical examination by your doctor. Many thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) and AAA are found incidentally on ultrasound scan, CT scan or MRI scan for unrelated symptoms. Symptoms may occur only if the aneurysm gets bigger and puts pressure on surrounding organs. Symptoms of ruptured TAA and AAA are sudden severe chest/upper back pain and abdominal /back pain respectively. Patients may collapse because of large volume of blood loss and extreme drop in blood pressure. It is likely to be fatal without immediate treatment.

Risk factors Include:

  • Age over 60 years
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Aortic aneurysms are more common in male. The association is more so in patients with AAA where men are five to ten times more affected than women.


The aim of treating aortic aneurysms (TAA and AAA) is to prevent aneurysms from getting bigger and to treat them before rupture. Depending on the size and growth rate of the aortic aneurysms, treatment may vary from watchful waiting (monitoring) to surgery.

If the aortic aneurysm is small, you will require imaging tests (e.g. Ultrasound scan or CT scan) to monitor the size of the aneurysm, along with medications (e.g. blood pressure medication) and management of risk factors.

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