Cardiac surgery has been an independent medical specialty since 1993. It has developed from general surgery, focusing on thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. It deals with the surgical treatment of congenital and acquired diseases and injuries of the heart and the vessels near the heart.
The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the human body. It emerges from the left ventricle, rises, and runs over an arch into the abdomen. Above the diaphragm, it is known as the thoracic aorta (thoracic aorta), and below as the abdominal aorta (abdominal aorta). The thoracic aorta has an ascending part (aorta ascendens) and a descending part (aorta descendens). This subdivision is essential because the localization of the disease requires different therapeutic procedures.
The most common disease of the aorta is a weakening of the vascular wall's elastic tissue, which leads to a dilatation (aneurysm) of the aorta. An aortic aneurysm can occur in all sections and involve other structures such as the aortic valve. With an aortic aneurysm, there is always the risk of an internal (dissection) or external rupture with correspondingly life-threatening bleeding complications.
In an ascending aneurysm, the diseased section of the vessel is replaced by a vascular prosthesis. Today, an aneurysm of the descending and abdominal arteries is usually stabilized by an endovascular stent prosthesis (internal vascular support). In some cases, a combination of both treatment methods is also useful.