What Is Thoracic Aortic Disease?
The aorta is the largest artery in the body, extending from the heart down through the chest (thoracic aorta) and into the abdomen (abdominal aorta). It carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Thoracic aortic disease includes aortic aneurysms and dissections, atherosclerotic disease, infections and traumatic injuries.
Ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections represent life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical attention. Thoracic aortic aneurysms affect approximately 15,000 people in the United States each year.
Anatomy of the thoracic aorta
To understand thoracic aortic disease, it is helpful to understand the parts of the thoracic aorta:
- Aortic valve
- Aortic root
- Ascending thoracic aorta
- Transverse aortic arch
- Descending aortic arch
- Thoraco-abdominal aorta
- Abdominal aorta