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Aortopathy means a disease of the aorta. It includes a dilated aorta, when the aorta is wider than normal at one or more points and / or a weakened aorta, often due to a genetic condition.
If you experience the following symptoms call 999:
There are different types of imaging test we use to monitor the aorta and you will have one or more of these at intervals:
CT Scans (Computerised tomography).
These can provide a clear picture of your aorta and detect the size and shape of any dilation you may have.
You pass through a ‘doughnut’ shaped scanner which takes X ray images: this is painless. You may be given some ‘contrast’ dye via a vein in your arm. The contrast helps produce a much clearer picture of the aorta. We may need to check your kidney function with a blood test before giving you contrast.
A CT scan also involves radiation so patients who need ongoing surveillance of their aorta may be referred for a different type of scan.
MRI Scans (Magnetic Resonance imaging).
MRI allows us to take pictures of the aorta without using radiation. The scanner uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to take detailed pictures of your aorta.
The scanner does make loud noises when the pictures are being taken. You will wear headphones that reduce the noise and allow the radiographer to talk to you. Patients who do not like enclosed spaces may find this test difficult. It is important to let us know if you think this may be the case.
Trans Thoracic Echocardiograms ‘Echo’.
An echo is an ultrasound scan of your heart. Gel is put onto your chest and a probe is used to look at the heart and aorta.
This test is carried out in the cardiac department and usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.
Unfortunately, once you have a dilated aorta it won’t get better but there are steps you can take to prevent it getting worse:
We recognise that coming to hospital can sometimes be difficult and we are here to help, should you need it.
If you have any issues or concerns about your care it is always best to speak initially to the person in charge of the ward or department. If you’re not happy with their response, please do get in touch with PALS.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: June 2022
Review Date: March 2025