Aneurysm and aortic disease
Cardiology specialists in Duke’s nationally ranked heart center diagnose and treat more people with aortic disease than most centers in the U.S. Our cardiologists and surgeons work closely with you to evaluate the serious conditions that can affect your aorta. As your body's largest artery, it distributes blood from your heart to the rest of your body. If you require surgery, our experienced surgeons use new, less invasive approaches to rebuild and repair the artery. We minimize your risk of further damage due to aortic disease.
Advanced treatment for aortic disease
Our nationally ranked heart center prevents and corrects the silent, sometimes fatal, conditions that can affect your aorta, including aneurysm (when the aorta weakens, enlarges or ruptures), aortic dissection (when the aorta splits), and aortic stenosis (when the aortic valve narrows abnormally). We also provide extensive monitoring, treatment, and novel surgical approaches to people born with congenital defects, including Loeys-Dietz Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome, which raise your risk for aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection. We use advanced imaging technology to identify your specific aortic disease, and monitor your condition so we know when to intervene.
Choose Duke Heart Center for your aortic disease treatment because we offer:
- Top-ranked care. U.S. News and World Report ranks Duke Heart Center 5th in the nation, based on our patients’ survival rates, the number of procedures we perform, and the quality of our support services.
- Excellent patient outcomes. We do a large number of complex surgeries to repair aortas — more than most U.S. centers — and use advanced monitoring of the central nervous system to protect your spinal cord during surgery. As a result, our surgical complication rates for complex aortic procedures, including risk of infection and re-hospitalization, are lower than the national average.
- Simpler, safer treatments. Whenever possible, we avoid open heart surgery and use less invasive techniques to access and repair the aorta. When needed, we can combine these techniques with traditional open heart surgery to give high-risk patients more options.
- Novel surgical techniques for rare genetic conditions. We developed novel surgical approaches to manage the risk of aortic dissection in patients with Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that greatly increases the risk of aortic aneurysm.
- Long-term follow-up. Our medical team provides ongoing management of your aortic disease to ensure you live the best life possible. Our cardiac rehabilitation program will assess your individual needs, and develop a comprehensive follow-up plan that may include exercise and nutrition counseling, as well as cholesterol and blood pressure management.
- National experts in aortic valve replacement. Aortic valves may start to function improperly and leak when aneurysms are located nearby. Our surgeons are among the nation’s top performers of valve disease surgery. In addition, we have more experience and better outcomes with transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedures than most medical centers in the US.
- Genetics screening and counseling. Our genetic heart disease program offers genetic testing and counseling to patients who have a family history or have been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition including aneurysms and congenital heart defects.
ANEURYSM AND AORTIC DISEASE
If your aneurysm is small and requires no immediate treatment, we will monitor changes every six to 12 months using imaging scans. This lets us continually evaluate the risks and benefits of medical or surgical intervention.
Statins, antihypertensive drugs, and beta blockers may help slow aneurysm growth and prevent complications.
When aortic repair is needed, we use a minimally invasive approach that involves the insertion of a catheter into your vein or aorta through a small incision in your groin. A fabric tube supported by metal mesh, called a stent graft, is strategically placed to reinforce weak spots and prevent an aortic rupture or aneurysm. You experience less blood loss and pain without the risk of open heart surgery, leave the hospital sooner, and recover faster.
When appropriate, we combine open heart surgery with minimally invasive endovascular techniques to repair the aorta. This alternative is valuable for older or high-risk patients who are ineligible for open heart surgery. It also reduces the risks associated with open heart surgeries and shortens recovery times.
ANEURYSM AND AORTIC DISEASE
Tests and screening
We focus on screening patients early, when intervention has the best chance of preventing more serious problems.
We are one of the few centers in the Southeast to offer genetic screening for congenital heart diseases like Marfan, Ehlers-Danlos, and Loeys-Dietz syndromes. We determine the best management and treatment approach for you and your family.
We use the latest advances in imaging techniques, including CT, MRI and ultrasound to create high resolution images that help identify if you are at risk for aortic disease, and to watch for changes that may occur following an aortic repair.