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About This Procedure 

Ascending aortic aneurysm is an abnormal dilation of the section of the aorta just above the aortic valve. These aneurysms can be sporadic or can be associated with certain familial conditions such as Marfan’s syndrome, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, bicuspid aortic valves and other conditions. The presence of an aneurysm increases the risk of an aortic complication, such as a dissection (tear in the aortic wall) or rupture. Aortic replacement is recommended for large aneurysms to prevent these complications from occurring.

Ascending aortic replacement involves resecting the aneurysmal portion of the aorta and replacing it with an artificial graft made from woven polyester. Cardiopulmonary bypass (heart-lung) machine, and often deep hypothermia, is used to protect the vital organs while Massachusetts General Hospital cardiac surgeons work to replace the diseased aorta. If additional aortic valve or aortic root pathology exists, concomitant aortic valve or root replacement is performed.


Patient referrals can be made to the Thoracic Aortic Center at 617-724-4747 or directly to any of the participating physicians. Coverage is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to receive emergency referrals from any regional physician or emergency department if an acute syndrome related to the thoracic aorta is suspected. A phone call to the Thoracic Aortic Center will set in motion the assembly of a team for emergency evaluation and management of the patient.

Outpatient referrals of patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms will result in multidisciplinary evaluation by appropriate physicians from cardiology, vascular radiology, cardiac and vascular surgery. Patients can be seen by multiple physicians on the same day, and the appointments are made with a single phone call to the Thoracic Aortic Center number.

Evaluation will result in a recommendation for either intervention or follow-up. Follow up for the aortic problem will be arranged at the center. General cardiac and pulmonary evaluation may also be done.

Patient Resources

Mass General is dedicated to ensuring that people understand their health care choices and have the necessary information to make decisions affecting their health and well-being. The related support and wellness information listed below can play a role in treatment options.

Patient Guide to Cardiac Surgery

Patient Guide to Cardiac Surgery

What to expect before, during and after your surgery at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center.

FAQs: Cardiac Anesthesia

FAQs: Cardiac Anesthesia

A guide of what to expect before, during and after cardiac anesthesia.

Family Guide to Cardiac Surgery

Family Guide to Cardiac Surgery

Support and guidance during a family member's open-heart surgery or transplantation.