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The aorta is the largest artery in the body. This vital blood vessel branches out to deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all of the tissues and critical organs in the body. When damaged or diseased, the aorta can develop a bulge that resembles a balloon, called an aneurysm. This condition creates weakness in the aortic wall and presents a risk of a dissection, which is a tear inside the aorta that can be fatal. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are the most common causes of aortic aneurysms. 

An aortic aneurysm that grows and ruptures or partially tears (aortic dissection) is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical and surgical intervention. 

Our surgeons provide effective treatment for aortic aneurysms including:

  • Ascending aortic replacement for aneurysms
  • Aortic root replacement including valve-sparing techniques

Aortic Grafting and Ascending Aortic Replacement For Aneurysms

Surgery is necessary when the first part of the aorta grows larger than normal.

When necessary, the aorta is replaced with a tube made of artificial fabric, or graft. The enlarged aorta is removed and the graft is sewn into place. The graft provides stability in the blood vessel for the restoration of normal blood flow. 

Aortic surgery is an open-chest procedure. To stop the flow of blood to the affected area, your surgeon will use a heart-lung bypass machine. This procedure requires a hospital stay of several days for extensive monitoring and recovery. 

Aortic Root Replacement Including Valve-Sparing Techniques

The aortic root is the section of the aorta that is attached to the heart, housing the aortic valve and the opening for the coronary arteries. Often, an aortic root aneurysm causes the aortic valve to become insufficient and leak. Some ascending aortic aneurysms involve the root of the aorta and require repair while preserving the patient’s aortic valve.

Valve sparing aortic root replacement is a complex, delicate operation performed by specially-trained cardiac surgeons at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. During this procedure, the aorta is replaced with a graft and the coronary arteries and the native aortic valve are re-attached.

In the appropriate patient, we can re-implant the patient's own valve into the new aortic root. This helps preserve natural valve tissue and can avoid the implantation of a prosthetic heart valve.