Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Guidelines

Updated: Mar 13, 2023
  • Author: Elaine Tseng, MD; Chief Editor: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM  more...
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ACC/AHA Guidelines for Aortic Disease

In November 2022, guidelines on the diagnosis and management of aortic disease were published by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). [2] These guidelines replace the 2010 ACC Foundation (ACCF)/AHA guidelines for diagnosing and managing thoracic aortic disease. They focus on considerations in surgical intervention, consistent imaging practices, genetic and familial screenings, and the importance of multidisciplinary care. Key messages include the following:

  • Screen first-degree relatives of individuals diagnosed with aneurysms of the aortic root or ascending thoracic aorta, or those with aortic dissection to identify individuals most at risk for aortic disease. Screening would include genetic testing and imaging.
  • Use consistency in obtaining and reporting computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or echocardiography findings; in measuring aortic size and features; and in how often images are used for monitoring before and after repair surgery or other intervention. Ideally, all surveillance imaging for an individual should be performed using the same modality and in the same lab.
  • For individuals who require aortic intervention, note that outcomes are optimized when surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon working in a multidisciplinary aortic team.
  • At centers with multidisciplinary aortic teams and experienced surgeons, the threshold for surgical intervention for sporadic aortic root and ascending aortic aneurysms is now 5.0 cm (from 5.5 cm) in select individuals, and it is even lower in specific settings among patients with heritable thoracic aortic aneurysms.
  • In patients who are significantly smaller or taller than average, surgical thresholds may incorporate indexing of the aortic root or ascending aortic diameter to either patient body surface area or height, or aortic cross-sectional area to patient height.
  • Rapid aortic growth is a risk factor for rupture, and the definition for rapid aneurysm growth rate has been updated. Surgery is recommended for patients with aneurysms of aortic root and ascending thoracic aorta with a confirmed growth rate of ≥0.3 cm per year across 2 consecutive years or ≥0.5 cm in 1 year.
  • It is reasonable for patients undergoing aortic root replacement surgery to receive valve-sparing aortic root replacement if the valve is suitable for repair and when performed by experienced surgeons in a multidisciplinary aortic team.
  • Consider transferring clinically stable patients with acute type A aortic dissection to a high-volume aortic center to improve survival. Operative repair of type A aortic dissection should entail at least an open distal anastomosis rather than just a simple supracoronary interposition graft.
  • An increasing role exists for thoracic endovascular aortic repair in the management of uncomplicated type B aortic dissection. For patients with suitable anatomy, a potential option might be endovascular repair of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms with endografts.
  • Shared decision-making between the patient and multidisciplinary aortic team is highly encouraged in the following patients: (1) patients on the borderline of thresholds for repair or those who are eligible for different types of surgical repair and (2) individuals with aortic disease who are pregnant or may become pregnant, for consideration of their risks of pregnancy.