Aortic root surgery

What is aortic root surgery?

Aortic root surgery is a surgical procedure for an enlarged aorta, often known as an aortic aneurysm. The aorta is a large blood vessel that transports blood from your heart to your body. The aortic root is located near where the heart and aorta connect and holds the aortic valve and the coronary arteries.

Why is it done?

This surgery is carried out to prevent a burst aneurysm or a fissure in the internal layer of the aorta’s walls (aortic dissection). They also do it to prevent the enlarged aorta from stretching the attached aortic valve. Aortic aneurysms near the aortic root may be related to Marfan syndrome and other heart diseases.

What happens during the surgery?

The surgery can be performed in different ways depending on what the problem is. Some types of surgery are as follows:

  • Root and aortic valve replacement: in this case, the aortic valve and a part of the aortic artery are removed and replaced with an artificial tube. The aortic valve is replaced with a mechanical or biological valve.
  • Repair of the aortic root while preserving the valve: in this procedure, the surgeon will replace the thickened segment of the aorta through an artificial tube and the aortic valve stays in place.

Surgery is recommended when the size of the aneurysm is between five and six centimetres.

Preparation

Before undergoing aortic root surgery, a specialist will explain to you what the procedure is, the risks involved and the benefits this surgery will bring to you.

Aortic root surgery is only done if the patient has no risk of aortic dissection, which is a rupture that can occur in the wall of the aorta.

After-care

The patient’s recovery time is around a month, with a few days spent the intensive care unit and then being transferred to a regular hospital room in which your recovery is observed.

Alternatives to aortic root surgery

Depending on the patient's condition, a specialist may opt for a different treatment, known as endovascular surgery. In this case, a catheter is used which is inserted through the leg and ascends to the aorta. An endovascular graft, which is a special tube, is placed inside the aneurysm. Once in place, the graft expands and seals off the aneurysm to prevent blood flow to it.

In this case, the recovery time is shorter, although not all patients are candidates to undergo this type of procedure.

What type of surgeon performs aortic root surgery?

Aortic surgery is usually performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon.

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