Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

How do we diagnose a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Chest X-Ray:
If an aneurysm is large enough it can be visible on a chest x-ray.  Smaller aneurysms are very hard to see with x-ray though.
For more information about chest x-ray please see

Echocardiography is simply an ultrasound of the heart and beginning part of the thoracic aorta.  Sometimes it can be used to see an aortic aneurysm but most of the aorta in the chest cannot be seen with ultrasound.
For more information about vascular ultrasound please see

Magnetic Resonance (MR):
MR and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) are more accurate tests to detect and measure thoracic aneurysms.  MR is used less often because of cost but is more accurate and uses no radiation.  MR may be the most accurate way to see if an aneurysm is at risk for rupture.
For more information about MRA exams please see

Computed Tomography (CT):
CT and computed tomography angiography (CTA) are the most accurate tests to detect and  thoracic aneurysms.  If the aneurysm gets large enough it is at risk to rupture. Once detected the best way to measure the aneurysm and look for changes is a CTA exam.
For more information about CTA exams please see

How do we treat a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Thoracic aneurysms that have gotten large enough are treated with a stent graft which creates a path through the bulge in the aorta which seals off the bulge.  In the chest this is often difficult because of important arteries that branch of the aorta in this region.  In rare cases surgery may be needed.