Duke vascular and heart surgeons evaluate and treat the serious conditions, such as aneurysms and dissections, that can affect your aorta. The aorta is the largest artery in the body; it distributes blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Whenever possible, our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to treat aortic problems. Our goal is to minimize your risk of serious complications from aortic disease.
About Aortic Disease
We work to prevent, detect, and correct the sometimes silent, life-threatening conditions that can affect your aorta, including:
- Aortic aneurysm -- when the aorta weakens, enlarges, or ruptures
- Aortic dissection -- when the aorta separates
We also work closely with congenital and genetic heart disease experts, since genetic conditions like Loeys-Dietz, Ehlers-Danlos, and Marfan syndromes can increase risk for an aortic aneurysm or dissection.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Early screening increases the chance of preventing serious issues.
Your doctor may suggest testing for genetic diseases that affect the blood vessels, such as Loeys-Dietz, Ehlers-Danlos, and Marfan syndromes. These may include physical exams, medical and family history reviews, and blood or saliva tests.
CT, MRI, and ultrasound scans show arteries in detail, helping your doctor identify aortic disease. These high-resolution images also highlight changes that may occur following an aortic repair. These tests take about 30 to 60 minutes and are virtually painless.
For this simple, pain-free test, an ultrasound probe is moved over the surface of your chest to capture moving images of your heart. This helps your doctor determine your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.
After you receive local anesthesia to numb the site, a flexible catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and guided to your heart. Contrast dye is injected, and X-rays are taken to capture images of your heart, coronary arteries, and other blood vessels.
CT Coronary Angiography
A contrast agent is injected into your arm, and a CT scan produces highly detailed, 3-D images of your coronary arteries to help identify anatomy and blockages. This test takes about 30 to 60 minutes and, aside from some discomfort from the injection, is virtually painless.
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cardiology and heart surgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2020–2021.
Why Choose Duke
Excellent Patient Outcomes
Our advanced techniques and team approach aim to minimize surgical complication rates for complex aortic procedures and reduce the risks of infection and re-hospitalization.
Novel Surgical Techniques for Rare Genetic Conditions
We have an experienced team that specializes in managing genetic conditions, such as Marfan and Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, that predispose patients to aortic dissection.
Hybrid Surgery to Repair the Aorta
When appropriate, we combine open-heart surgery with minimally invasive techniques to repair the aorta. This alternative is well-suited for older or high-risk people who may not be candidates for more invasive surgeries.
Our medical team provides ongoing management of your aortic disease to ensure you live the best life possible.