Aortic Aneurysm and Aortic Dissection

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Duke vascular and heart surgeons evaluate and treat the serious conditions that can affect your aorta, such as aneurysms and dissections. As the largest artery in the body, the aorta distributes blood from your heart to the rest of your system. 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.

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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.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Together with you and your family, our experts determine the best management and treatment approach.

Watchful Waiting

If your aneurysm is small and does not need immediate treatment, we will schedule you to have routine evaluations with ultrasound or CT imaging. This lets us continually monitor the risks and benefits of medical or surgical intervention.


Cholesterol-lowering medications (statins) and blood-pressure medications may help slow aneurysm growth and prevent complications.

Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) or Thoracic Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (TEVAR)

These minimally invasive approaches involve placing a stent into the aorta to prevent an aneurysm rupture. Usually a catheter is placed in the femoral artery in the groin and threaded through your circulatory system to the aorta. Our surgeons determine eligibility for these procedures based on each person’s individual anatomy.


If your anatomy is not suitable for an endovascular repair, our surgical team is expert at repairing or replacing sections of the aorta with open surgery.


Early screening increases the chance of preventing serious issues.

Genetic Heart Disease Screening

Your doctor may suggest testing for genetic diseases that affect the blood vessels. 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.

Cardiac Catheterization

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, 3D 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.

Best Heart Hospital in North Carolina

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 2024–2025.

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. 

Long-Term Care
Our medical team provides ongoing management of your aortic disease to ensure you live the best life possible.

This page was medically reviewed on 10/13/2022 by