Early Diagnosis is Critical
Typically, TAAs are diagnosed these days because of chest CT scans performed for other reasons. Early diagnosis is critical. The larger the thoracic aortic aneurysm, or the faster it grows, the more likely it is to rupture. The risk of rupture increases when the aneurysm is larger than about twice the normal diameter of a healthy aortic blood vessel.
If a TAA is suspected, your physician may order any of the following tests:
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
A CT scan delivers computer-generated, x-ray images of your internal organs. A liquid dye that can be seen on x-ray is injected into a vein in your arm to outline the aorta on the scan. The scan can be used to determine the size and shape of an aneurysm more accurately than an ultrasound.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan
MRI uses magnets and radio waves to make images of the inside of your body. It is very precise in detecting aneurysms and pinpointing their exact size and location. This procedure does not involve the use of x-rays.
A test in which a thin tube called a catheter is snaked into a blood vessel and a contrast due is injected to make the vessels visible on x-ray. An angiogram shows the amount of damage and blockage in blood vessels. An aortogram is an angiogram of the aorta and may show the location and size of an aortic aneurysm, as well as the arteries that are involved.
A test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure.
You will most likely be referred to a specialist, typically a cardiac or vascular surgeon, if a TAA is suspected. He or she may also order one or more of these tests to confirm the suspicion.