Strategies for Managing Thoracic Aortic Disease With Surgery

In the past two decades, published research has suggested that the prevalence of thoracic aortic disease (TAD) has tripled. This finding is largely attributable to the growing elderly population and increased physician awareness. Historically, physicians and surgeons often believed that TAD was a rare condition that was only to be considered as a diagnosis when patients were extremely ill or deceased. Additionally, imaging technologies have improved significantly, especially in the last decade. They have become less expensive and more accessible in hospitals across the United States. As a result, more cases of TAD are being detected than ever before. A New Scientific Statement The American Heart Association (AHA) has released a review of recent research related to descending TAD with a specific focus on open versus endovascular approaches to repair. The goal of the AHA statement, which was published in the June 2010 issue of Circulation, was to review current approaches and their associated outcomes so that physicians have the data they need to utilize evidence-based recommendations for treating patients with TAD. “We now realize that the current prevalence figures are likely the most accurate we’ve ever seen and are significant,” explains John S. Ikonomidis, MD, PhD, a co-author on the AHA statement. “They underscore the importance of the advances in the knowledge that we have with regards to the causes, diagnostics, and treatment strategies for TAD.” “If physicians have patients with descending TAD, they should refer them to cardiovascular surgeons with specific expertise in the area of TAD” With the increase in information on open and endovascular treatment of TAD, it is important to provide physicians with a better understanding...