Advances in imaging techniques make it possible to easily identify patients at risk for aortic disease. At Duke, we focus on screening patients early, so patients can receive intervention before the situation becomes an emergency.
A computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the chest, or an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI of the abdomen provide an initial screen that can detect multiple abnormalities of the thoracoabdominal aorta, including:
Such screening should be routine for men over 50 who have a history of carotid or coronary disease and smoking.
Routine screening can also benefit high-risk patients with a family history of aortic disease, bicuspid aortic valves, or a connective tissue disorder such as the Marfan syndrome.
Patients with intense chest or upper back pain but no evidence of heart attack may be candidates for emergency screening.
Patients with a family history of the Marfan syndrome or another genetic connective tissue disorder such as one of the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes or Loeys-Dietz syndrome, should see a medical geneticist for evaluation, which sometimes includes genetic testing for these disorders.
Duke is one of the few centers in the Southeast that offers genetic screening for these inherited disorders. Genetic testing is a new but expanding field, and diagnosing genetic disorders is complex, often involving several physicians.
At Duke, physicians try to coordinate care so that patients can see multiple subspecialists all in one day if necessary.
Call 888-ASK-DUKE (888-275-3853) to schedule an appointment with a Duke heart specialist near you.
Physicians offering this service include:
This service is available at: