Aortic disease

Aortic Disease Program

The Aortic Disease Treatment Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fireman Vascular Center offers sophisticated, accurate diagnosis and leading-edge treatments for patients with all types of aortic disease, including abdominal and thoracic.
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Call to request an appointment or to refer a patient: 877-644-8346


The Massachusetts General Hospital Fireman Vascular Center is one of the only vascular centers in the country with specialists in every area of vascular disease. This multidisciplinary team of specialists has developed some of the most innovative therapies available for abdominal and thoracic aortic disease.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Vascular Care

The Aortic Disease Program combines the expertise of a team of clinicians from multiple disciplines to provide advanced care from many perspectives, including:

  • Vascular medicine and cardiology
  • Vascular and endovascular surgery
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Vascular imaging and intervention
  • Anesthesiology

We work together with the patient and referring physician to coordinate personalized treatment plans for all patients.

Specialists Dedicated to Vascular Imaging

To accurately diagnose aortic disease, our team includes attending staff radiologists who are specially trained in the evaluation of the cardiovascular system and whose practice focuses specifically on vascular disease. These imaging specialists are board certified in general radiology and fellowship trained with additional specialization in cardiac and vascular procedures.

We may use one or more techniques to diagnose aortic disease, including:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
  • CT scan
  • Intravascular ultrasound

These tests are also available at our convenient Waltham location

Convenient Waltham Location

Specialists in the Fireman Vascular Center practice at Mass General and at our convenient location in Waltham. Mass General Waltham offers outpatient services for people with vascular conditions, including imaging, consultation and coordinated care with multiple specialists. Free garage parking is also available.

Learn more

Leading-Edge Treatments for Abdominal Aortic Disease

Our main goal is to evaluate patients and design a personalized treatment plan that decreases the risk of aneurysm rupture. Treatment is determined according to the severity and size of a patient’s abdominal aortic aneurysm and includes:

  • Medical therapy: Medications used to manage abdominal aortic disease include drugs to control cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Endovascular stent graft repair: This minimally invasive procedure involves the placement of a covered stent to reline the aneurysm and to keep it from bursting. Stent graft repair is less invasive than open surgery and often results in faster recovery times
  • Open surgical aneurysm repair: During this procedure, an aortic graft (a durable tube) is sewn in place to replace the weakened segment of artery and keep it from bursting

Access to Promising New Treatments

The Fireman Vascular Center participates in major clinical studies evaluating new technologies and devices to treat abdominal and thoracic aortic disease. This allows us to bring our patients promising new treatments as quickly as possible. Some of these studies include:

  • New devices: Physicians at the Fireman Vascular Center are currently investigating new devices for the minimally invasive treatment of aortic disease, including endovascular stent grafts for thoracic aortic aneurysms and devices that may prevent stent grafts from moving
  • Fenestrated stent grafts: This investigational approach is being studied for its potential to extend endovascular stent graft technology to patients with more complicated abdominal aortic aneurysms
  • IRAD: Massachusetts General Hospital is one of 24 large referral centers participating in the International Registry of Aortic Dissection (IRAD), a leading consortium of research centers that evaluate the management and outcomes of acute aortic dissection
  • Protecting the spine: Physicians from the Thoracic Aortic Center are refining new cerebral and spinal protection techniques that significantly reduce the risk of stroke and paralysis during procedures

Patients interested in participating in clinical trials should contact their provider for more information.

View a sample of our clinical research

Physicians Specializing in Thoracic Aortic Disease

Thoracic aortic disease affects the portion of the aorta that is in the chest and requires treatment from both cardiac and vascular specialists. Recognizing this approach, Mass General formed the Thoracic Aortic Center, a multidisciplinary program that brings together a team of specialists - cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular and endovascular surgeons - all dedicated to treating thoracic aortic disease. The center attracts patients from across the nation and world for its specialized treatment of acute and chronic aortic dissections, thoracic and thoraco-abdominal aortic aneurysms, Marfan syndrome and coarctation of the aorta.

Our renowned specialists evaluate patients, determine if an intervention is needed and, if so, the appropriate timing for treatment. Advanced treatment options include:

  • Aortic stent grafts: Some cases of aortic dissection can be treated with stents
  • Aortic arch surgery: During aortic arch surgery, physicians use a special graft with branches already sewn in place, cool the body down and supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain using a process called antegrade cerebral perfusion. Our physicians are experienced in treating thoracic aortic disease using this technique

Read more about advanced treatments available at the Thoracic Aortic Center

National Leaders in Our Field

The Fireman Vascular Center has a long tradition of excellence in clinical care, and our physicians are national leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of abdominal and thoracic aortic disease. We are at the forefront of new research and serve on national and international professional boards and societies, including the:

  • Society for Vascular Surgery
  • Society of Interventional Radiology
  • American College of Cardiology

Our physicians are committed to teaching patients and other health care professionals about the latest treatments for aortic disease. Mass General physicians have trained clinicians around the world in several techniques, including stent graft repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms.

One Call Coordinates Care

Our dedicated nurse coordinator is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm to take relevant information about your condition and symptoms and to make a timely appointment with the most appropriate specialist. Call 877-644-8346 or request an appointment online

We strive to see patients as soon as possible and assign every patient one clinician to organize care between members of our multidisciplinary team. From diagnosis to treatment and follow up, this physician guides patients through the treatment process.

Conditions & Diseases

The care team at the Fireman Vascular Center encourages all patients and family members to learn more about conditions and diseases that affect the cardiovascular system. The links below provide more information about vascular conditions and diseases that might be treated within this program.

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

    An abdominal aortic aneurysm, also called AAA or triple A, is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the aorta (the largest artery in the body) resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning greater than 50 percent of the normal diameter (width).

  • Aneurysm

    An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning greater than 50 percent of the normal diameter

  • Atherosclerosis

    Atherosclerosis is a thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery.

  • Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

    A thoracic aortic aneurysm, also called TAA, is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the thoracic aorta (the largest artery in the body), resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning.

Patient Education

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.

  • Designing an Exercise Program

    When you exercise, you'll breathe faster and more deeply. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood.

  • Healthy Eating

    Many vascular conditions can be improved by changing certain lifestyle factors. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of many factors. If you are trying to make heart-healthy changes to your diet, it is helpful to know some basics about nutrition, starting with the components of food.

  • Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

    Diseases caused by smoking kill more than 437,900 people in the United States each year. Around 35 percent of these deaths were cardiovascular related.

  • Determining Your Body Mass Index

    A good indicator of how much fat you carry is the Body Mass Index (BMI). Although it is not a perfect measure, it gives a fairly accurate assessment of how much of your body is composed of fat.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Thoracic Aortic Disease

    Learn how physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital Thoracic Aortic Center diagnose and treat thoracic aortic disease, a condition that affects the portion of the aorta that is in the chest and requires treatment from both cardiac and vascular specialists.


  • Surgeon's Rare Aneurism Skills Let Pianist Play On - 11/17/2015, Mass General

    After renowned pianist Menahem Pressler suffered a life-threatening aneurysm, he entrusted his care to an Mass General surgeon Virendra Patel, MD, MPH, with an innovative grafting procedure.

  • Back on track - 10/8/2008, Clinical

    When Richard Horgan, age 72, was vacationing with the family at Disney World, he began to speak haltingly - with a slight stutter. Before the week was over, Richard would be diagnosed with stroke, serious kidney problems, and abdominal aortic aneurysm.

  • Patient Spotlight: Understanding PAD - 10/6/2008, Mass General

    Eugene Tarsky, 73, had never heard of peripheral artery disease (PAD) when he was first diagnosed three years ago. Though the news was troubling, careful monitoring by doctors and a commitment to reducing his risk factors have kept him healthy and free from complications.

  • Quick action helps woman recover from DVT and serious complications - 10/6/2008, Mass General

    Nancy Hammer never thought about her vascular health until a day of shopping left her in serious pain.


  • Massachusetts General Hospital Fireman Vascular Center research milestones slideshow

    Access to new treatments

    Fireman Vascular Center physicians and scientists participate in international research and lead more than 70 clinical trials that evaluate current therapies and investigate new devices to treat vascular disease. These research efforts have led to a number of groundbreaking firsts, bringing innovative new treatments to the patient’s bedside.


Contact Us

Vascular Center

55 Fruit Street Boston, MA 02114
  • Phone: 877-644-8346


  • 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Vascular Center at Waltham52 Second Avenue, Suite 2100
Waltham, MA 02451
8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Learn about our convenient Waltham location

Request an appointment Request a second opinion

Call to request an appointment or to refer a patient: 877-644-8346

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