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Treatment Program

Aortic Disease

Mass General Brigham Heart specializes in the care of complex aortic diseases and acute aortic emergencies. A multidisciplinary team of specialists offers the most advanced treatments available and develops a unique treatment plan for each patient. 

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About aortic disease

Mass General Brigham offers the most advanced care for patients with disease of the aorta, the main artery of the heart, including acute and chronic aortic dissections, thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms, Marfan syndrome, and coarctation of the aorta. Each patient’s care team combines the expertise of a team of clinicians from multiple disciplines and many perspectives, including specialists in cardiac, vascular and endovascular surgery, cardiology, vascular medicine, cardiac and vascular intervention, imaging, and anesthesia. Our treatments are driven by sophisticated technology and implemented by the entire team of specialists. 

By carefully studying the results of imaging studies and considering the patient’s past medical history, the team weighs the risks and benefits of various treatments and recommends a course of optimal management to the patient, family, and the referring physician. Depending on the patient’s needs, the team can add a whole host of support services, including interpreters, social workers and other medical specialists. All of this happens quickly, with the patient typically having a treatment plan established at the end of the first visit.


Conditions we treat

Jeanne's Story: Recovery from Aortic Dissection

When Jeanne began experiencing acute shoulder and back pain, she wasted no time in seeking help at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. She was diagnosed with aortic dissection and quickly transferred to Brigham and Women's Hospital for urgent surgical treatment, which ultimately saved her life.

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Aortic disease symptoms

Depending on the type of aortic disease a patient has, symptoms may include:

Signs of an aortic emergency include:

Diagnosis of aortic disease

Our cardiac imaging specialists may recommend one or more advanced diagnostic tests to make a diagnosis, including:

Approach to treatment for aortic disease

Depending on the diagnosis, medical intervention or surgical treatments may be recommended. 

  • Medications used to manage aortic disease include drugs to control cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Multi-modality imaging is conducted to monitor ongoing and chronic conditions

Mass General Brigham heart specialists develop and utilize the latest cardiac surgical devices and technology, even those that are still in clinical trials and not yet widely available. In some complex cases, we may recommend a hybrid approach to treatment (combining surgery and non-surgical treatments). Our team specializes in a number of innovative procedures for managing aortic disease, including:

  • Aortic arch surgery
  • Aortic dissection for Marfan's syndrome
  • Ascending aneurysm repair with an interposition tube graft
  • Composite aortic root replacement
  • Hybrid approaches to treat complex aortic disease
  • Minimally invasive stent-grafts for selected thoracic aortic aneurysms
  • Repair of extensive thoracoabdominal aneurysms
  • Stent graft/minimally invasive endovascular surgery
  • Valve-preserving operations for aortic root aneurysms

Lifelong care for aortic disease

Patients with aortic disease who are diagnosed and receive the appropriate treatment can expect to lead relatively normal lives, but lifelong management of the disease may be required. After their initial diagnosis, patients are followed carefully by their providers to ensure their condition is being managed. Patients especially need to control their blood pressure in order to limit the stress on the aorta, and often need lifelong surveillance of their aorta to monitor for need of additional treatment.

Aortic disease research and clinical innovation

Physicians at Mass General Brigham Heart have revolutionized medical care for aortic disease. Whether it’s a research team working to optimize guidelines for managing an aortic disease or creating innovative surgical procedures, we are at the forefront of the latest discoveries, bringing clinical breakthroughs directly to our cardiology patients.

Learn how our experts are investigating genetic drivers of vascular disease in hopes of preventing aortic dissection and aneurysm and researching novel endografts for complex aortic disease. 

Heart news & highlights