What is the aorta:
The aorta is the blood vessel that originates from the heart and distributes blood from the heart throughout the body. Aorta is a tube that initially travels up in the chest, then curves to the back of the chest, travels down the back of the chest, enters the abdomen and finally divides to supply the legs. Along the way it has branches that supply the head/brain, arms, chest, spine, bowels and kidneys. Given its long length it may have disease that is localized to a particular segment of the aorta or it may have disease that encompasses its entire length. As the aorta supplies blood throughout the body disease of the aorta has the potential to be life threatening and to affect blood flow to all the organs in the body.
Who we are:
The aortic program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is a multi-disciplinary group encompassing personnel across a broad spectrum of expertise including cardiac and vascular surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology and critical care, imaging and radiology, nursing, nutrition and rehabilitation. We treat aortic disorders from small segment to the most complex aortic disease in a wide range of ages.
The program emphasizes the importance of education, shared, individualized and multi-disciplinary decision-making for patients with complex aortic pathologies. We believe in evidence-based and standardized management whenever possible as important for maintaining the best possible outcomes and enabling quality/process improvement. We also believe in a mission to contribute to the scientific understanding of aortic pathology with a view to improving the treatment for future generations.
What diseases do we treat:
We treat patients with diseases across the spectrum of aortic pathology, including but not limited to:
- aortic dissection
- aortic aneurysms
- penetrating aortic ulcers
- traumatic aortic injuries
- aortic wall hematomas
- sinus of valsalva and aortic root aneurysms
- congenital aortic pathologies including aortic arch anomalies
- inherited aortic diseases
- Marfan syndrome
- Loeys Dietz syndrome
- Ehlers Danlos syndrome
- Bicuspid aortopathy
- Thoracoabdominal aneurysms
- Infra-renal and juxta-renal aneurysms
- aortic occlusion
- native aortic infection
- mycotic aneurysms
- re-operative aortic surgery
- aortic graft infections
What you should expect from our program:
As a patient you should expect a comprehensive evaluation frequently by personnel from multiple areas of expertise. Many aortic pathologies do not require operative intervention. In these cases expect a recommendation for strict blood pressure control, smoking cessation and to undergo serial surveillance imaging that may continue lifelong or until the aortic pathology progresses.
If operative/surgical intervention is considered the decision-making is often complex and individualized. Frequently options for surgical intervention may include both open and endovascular (catheter based) therapies, and in some cases may be combined for the best possible outcome. Sometimes the procedures are staged if needed. Both strategies, when available, have advantages and disadvantages that will be discussed with you and a recommendation made based on the best available knowledge. All strategies for aortic surgery have inherent risk that will also be discussed in detail with you. Pre-operative assessments, education, planning and optimization are of paramount importance to achieving the best possible outcomes and are strongly emphasized.
Many patients with aortic pathology may have a hereditary component to the disease. If this is suspected we may recommend additional testing for yourself and your family along with counseling regarding the significance of this testing. This is an aspect that is evolving rapidly alongside advancements to our knowledge of the genetic basis of disease.
As our mission includes enhancing the scientific knowledge of aortic disease and treatment we may ask you to participate in a study, trial or research that is pertinent to your aortic disease. You will always receive our best possible care regardless of your participation, or not, in any such trial/research.
Director of the Cardiovascular ICU
Chief of Cardiovascular Anesthesiology
Contact no. for primarily thoracic pathology: 402-559-4000
Contact no. for primarily abdominal pathology: 402-559-4000