The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on endovascular stent-graft placement in thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections.
This procedure is used to treat aneurysms of the descending aorta within the thorax. Weakening of the wall of the aorta, due to atheroma, high blood pressure, or, less commonly, infection, can lead to an aneurysm. Aneurysms may rupture, causing internal bleeding.
Aneurysms of the thoracic aorta are potentially serious. Untreated, five year survival is 10 to 15%. Ruptured thoracic aneurysm is almost always fatal, even with treatment.
Aneurysms of the thoracic aorta are relatively uncommon. Conventional surgery involves replacing the affected part of the aorta with a graft. The operation usually takes several hours and postoperative recovery can be prolonged.
Stenting involves placing a tube inside the aorta under X-ray control. Specialized catheters and wires are used to introduce the stent, most commonly through the femoral artery.