Aortic Center

The aorta is the body’s largest artery, carrying blood from your heart through your chest and torso. Aortic disease can cause your aorta to tear or enlarge. If a bulge called an aneurysm forms in a weakened area of the aorta, you are at risk of a life-threatening rupture.

All aortic disease requires medical care. An aneurysm needs treatment to prevent dangerous bleeding. MUSC Health’s Heart & Vascular Center specialists use the most advanced tools available to diagnose and treat aortic disease.

Why Choose the MUSC Health Aortic Center?

We have the expertise and technology to diagnose and treat aortic conditions quickly and effectively. When you come to the Heart & Vascular Center for aortic care, you’ll find:

  • Leaders in aortic disease care: Our program is among an elite few in the country with experienced doctors who specialize in aortic diseases. U.S. News & World Report ranks MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina and high-performing in abdominal aortic aneurysm repair and aortic valve surgery.
  • History of innovation: MUSC Health is South Carolina’s only program to offer complex aorta surgeries for certain types of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection. We were first in the state to use minimally invasive abdominal aortic stent grafts (support to hold open your aorta) for aortic aneurysms. Today, our team is dedicated to mastering the latest treatments through research and clinical trials.
  • Teamwork: Our aortic disease specialists collaborate with thoracic surgeons and cardiologists to craft your treatment plan. Meet our team.
  • Advanced technology: A partnership between MUSC Health and Medtronic can help vascular doctors find and diagnose people with vascular disease sooner, especially in rural areas. Through telehealth, people can connect more easily with vascular surgeons and home health nurses.
  • Convenient care: The MUSC Health Heart & Vascular Center offers outreach clinics in many areas of the state where you can see aortic specialists. You’ll have surgical procedures at the Ashley River Tower. When possible, we schedule same-day appointments for all your diagnostic procedures and consultations. We partner with your referring physician to ensure long-term disease management.

Aortic Care at MUSC Health

With advanced imaging services, you can get a fast, accurate diagnosis so you receive the right care.

Not all aortic aneurysms are emergencies. Depending on the urgency of your problem, your doctor may recommend “watchful waiting.” Nonsurgical aortic care services at MUSC Health include:

  • Medication management of aortic disease
  • Medical management of health conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Support for lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes and exercise
  • Genetic counseling
  • Patient and family education
  • Diagnostic imaging tests for ongoing disease management

Aortic Disease Treatments at MUSC Health

The Aortic Center at MUSC Health provides South Carolina’s most complete array of aortic disease treatment options. In our hybrid operating room, surgical teams perform both minimally invasive and surgical procedures.

Our aortic disease treatment options include:

Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)

Abdominal aortic aneurysms form in the lower torso, below the arteries that feed the kidney. Many medical centers treat them with open surgery. But because that procedure requires a large incision in the abdomen or chest, it often means a lengthy hospitalization and recovery.

Whenever possible, our aortic specialists use minimally invasive endovascular procedures for treating aortic aneurysms. Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) is a catheter-based procedure, using small tubes inserted in your blood vessels through tiny incisions. For you, this approach means a faster recovery, reduced risk of infection and less pain.

During EVAR:

  • Your doctor makes small incisions in your groin and threads a catheter into the femoral artery in your legs.
  • Using the catheter, the surgeon places a stent graft at the site of the aneurysm. The fabric-lined stent graft seals the blood vessel walls to stop blood from leaking. A metallic mesh stent acts as a scaffold for the graft material.
  • The stent graft reduces pressure on the aneurysm wall to prevent the aneurysm from growing or bursting.

Fenestrated Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (FEVAR)

Some abdominal aortic aneurysms involve the major aortic vessels that supply blood to your kidneys, bowel or liver. Our doctors treat these aneurysms with FEVAR, which uses a stent graft with windows, or fenestrations, to allow blood flow to the organs.

The fenestrations (windows) of the stent graft let blood continue to flow to vital organs while blocking blood flow to the aneurysm. Without blood flow, the aneurysm can’t grow or burst.

Diagram of fenestrated repair.
Diagram of a fenestrated repair

Thoracic Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (TEVAR)

TEVAR treats a thoracic aortic aneurysm, an aneurysm that occurs in a weakened aortic wall in the chest. With TEVAR, doctors can sometimes access the aneurysm through arteries in your arms instead of your legs.

TEVAR also can treat thoracic aortic dissection, a condition that tears the wall of the aorta in two. The stent graft covers the hole in the wall of the aorta and diverts blood flow, allowing the aorta to heal.

Aortic Valve Replacement

The aortic valve controls blood flow from your aorta and protects your heart from blood leaking back into it. Over time, or because of inherited conditions, the valves in your heart may not work as they should. Aortic valve and replacement can help you stay stronger and enjoy life again. Find out more about heart valve surgery.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

After any heart or vascular surgery, a supervised exercise program can help you regain your strength. Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation at MUSC Health.