Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program

Cedars-Sinai's Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of diseases affecting the thoracic aorta, which may cause dilation, aneurysm and dissection.

Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program

Current treatment options for the aorta, the largest artery in the body, are the result of many years of innovation. For 30 years Cedars-Sinai physicians have addressed the effects of injury and disease in this vital artery. Accelerated technical progress, particularly over the last 15 years, has resulted in today's state-of-the-art medical and surgical approaches to aortic disease. In the early history of aortic surgery, nationally the morbidity and mortality rates were high. Today even the most difficult aortic conditions in high-risk patients yield to world-class innovation and the expertise in aortic surgery at Cedars-Sinai's Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program. The program is under the direction of Alfredo Trento, MD, who has led advances in thoracic aortic surgery at Cedars-Sinai since 1988.

Early detection, monitoring and treatment of aortic disease, including appropriately timed elective surgery, are key to successful outcomes. The goal whenever possible is to avoid life-threatening emergencies that too often prove fatal. Conditions affecting the aorta are serious, but through expert diagnosis and treatment, lifestyle modifications and ongoing medical care, patients under the care of aortic specialists may continue to enjoy normal, productive lives. If at any time you have questions about aortic disease in general or the treatment program at Cedars-Sinai, you are welcome to contact the program's liaison.

 

A Comprehensive Team Approach

Aortic disease is complex, degenerative, and typically progressive in nature. Other heart conditions may also be present, calling for a comprehensive approach to each patient. Under the leadership of Eduardo Marban, MD, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and Tim Henry, MD, Director of the Division of Cardiology, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is comprised of expertise spanning all aspects of the medical and surgical treatment of cardiac and aortic disease. The Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program, an area of specialization within Cardiothoracic Surgery, draws from expertise throughout the Heart Institute in providing world-class care for those with aortic disease. Please click on the Our Expert Team link in the side menu to become acquainted with the entire Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute team.

To comprehensively evaluate our patients, we work in partnership with other specialty areas at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, including the Department of Neurosurgery. Because many of the risk factors for aortic and cerebral aneurysms are the same, patients with those risk factors undergo careful evaluations for the brain, as well as the entire aorta. Dr. Wouter Schievink, Director of Neurovascular Surgery, and the Department of Neurosurgery's neuroradiologists provide world-class diagnosis and treatment services for aneurysms and dissections in cerebral vessels.

Additional areas of expertise, including imaging and nuclear medicine, also perform some of the state-of-the-art diagnostic testing required for accurate measurement and assessment of each individual. A specific treatment strategy, designed to address all aspects of aortic, cardiac and vascular disease, is developed for each individual based on their diagnostic test results. Patients and their families are key members of this team approach to treatment, which includes medical therapy, lifestyle modifications, ongoing monitoring and potentially elective surgery.

 

Introduction to Aortic Surgery

The surgical removal of some portion of diseased aorta is called aortic resection. A Dacron® graft is used to replace the diseased aortic tissue. Dacron grafts are an excellent example of successful substitution of a synthetic material within the human body. Dacron is so completely compatible with the body that rejection and calcification do not occur. With the passage of time the body deposits its own tissue into the Dacron graft. Today's modern Dacron grafts are strong, flexible and collagen impregnated, making them impervious to blood. The durability of these grafts exceeds that of the human life span.

Surgery on the thoracic aorta is in some respects similar to other types of open-heart surgery. Particular details regarding the size and location of the incision, the use of the heart-lung machine and specialized techniques used to provide neurologic protection vary depending on the type of aortic surgery being performed.