Aorta Glossary

Abdominal aorta: the aorta located in the abdomen and below the diaphragm. 

Acute aortic dissection: a tear in the intimal layer (inner layer) of the aorta creating a false channel (lumen) allowing blood to travel through the medial layer. 

Aneurysm: an abnormal enlargement or dilation of the aorta at least twice the normal size of the aorta. The size of the normal aorta is in the range of 2.0-2.5 cm and can depend on its anatomical location, gender, body mass and age. 

Aorta: the largest blood vessel in the body which begins at the base of the heart and ends in the pelvis. It divides into the iliac and femoral arteries which supplies blood to the lower body. As the aorta travels throughout the body various branches come off to supply blood to organs in the chest and abdomen. 

Aortic repair/replacement: the removal of diseased aorta (aneurysm) and replacement with a synthetic tube graft. 

Aortic ulceration: Usually occurs in patients with hypertension and diffuse atherosclerosis. The ulcer can penetrate the aortic wall to a varying depth however the ulcer will usually reach the muscular layer (tunica media). Intramural hematomas and dissections can develop as a result of ulceration. Full thickness ulceration can occur developing into pseudoaneurysm and free perforation. 

Bicuspid aortic valve: a genetically abnormal valve with two leaflets as opposed to three leaflet. There are variations of the bicuspid aortic valve with regards to number and orientation of raphe and commisures. 

Chronic aortic dissection: an aorta with an intimal (inner layer) tear and false lumen persisting after 2 weeks of the acute event. 

Marfan syndrome: an autosomal dominant genetic disorder manifested in connective tissue disorder. Patients have a multitude of clinical manifestations: retinal detachment, skeletal abnormalities, aortic aneurysms, mitral valve prolapse, pectus abnormalities, and nervous system problems related to the dura. 

Mycotic (infected) aneurysm: an aortic aneurysm which develops secondary to direct invasion of the aorta by microorganism causing weakening or through the bloodstream from an infection originating from another site in the body. 

Pseudoaneurysm: is a disruption of the two inner layers or possibly all the layers of the aortic wall and containment by contiguous tissues and/or blood clot. 

Thoracic aorta: the aorta that is located within the chest cavity and is above the diaphragm. 

Thoracic endovascular aortic stenting (TEVAR): repair of a thoracic aortic aneurysm or dissection with a synthetic graft however it is delivered for the most part, through the femoral arteries. (see Endovascular treatment page.) 

Thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm: an aneurysm that begins along the descending aorta and extends into the abdomen. The Crawford classification is commonly used to describe the extent of the aneurysm.


Contact Us

Allan Stewart, MD
Director, Aortic Surgery Program
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
The Mount Sinai Health System
1190 Fifth Ave: Box 1028

Assistant: Debra Segreti
Office: 212-659-6807
Fax: 212-659-6818