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Center for Thoracic Aortic Diseases

The Washington University Center for Thoracic Aortic Diseases is a collaborative, multidisciplinary group of physicians with a special interest in diseases of the thoracic aorta, including acute and chronic aortic dissections, degenerative (atherosclerotic) aneurysms and Marfan's syndrome.

FOR AN APPOINTMENT, PHYSICIANS CALL (314) 362 7260 or 24-HOUR PAGER (314) 823-0111

Patients Call: (888) 287-8741 (toll free)
Adults - (314) 362-6025
Children - (314) 454-6165


Marc R.Moon, MD, cardiovascular surgeon Director of the Center for Aortic Diseases
Michael K. Pasque, MD, cardiovascular surgeon
Ralph J. Damiano, Jr., MD cardiovascular surgeon and Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery
Luis A. Sanchez, MD, vascular surgeon
Gregorio Sicard, MD, vascular surgeon
Brian G. Rubin, MD, vascular surgeon
Robert W. Thompson, MD, vascular surgeon

Alan C. Braverman, MD, cardiologist

Suresh Vedantham, MD, interventional radiologist
Daniel Picus, MD, interventional radiologist

Patients click here for commonly asked questions about thoracic aortic aneurysm

Patients click here for commonly asked questions about thoracic aortic dissection

Click here for a news story - first thoracic aortic stent in Midwest

What is the Washington University advantage ?

The surgeons and diagnostic/interventional radiologists in this group treat a large volume of patients with a wide range of aortic diseases. This experience provides patients reassurance that the treatment team are highly skilled in all aspects of the required surgery and after care. They routinely perform highly specialized procedures that other centers treat only rarely.

This group at the Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease has access to the most advanced diagnostic imaging methods, such as high-resolution echocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography with 3D reconstruction.

Our thoracic surgeons have experience in cardiovascular stent technology, prosthetic root replacement (mechanical, homografts and porcine xenografts), and innovative procedures for aneurysmal disease of the entire thoracic aorta.

The vascular specialists at the Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease have extensive experience in the use of endovascular stent grafts in the management of infra-renal abdominal aortic aneurysms, and are bringing that experience to bear in the treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysmal disease.

What conditions are treated ?

Acute and chronic aortic dissections

Aortic dissection occurs secondary to degenerative changes in the aortic media.  It occurs when the inner layer of the aorta’s artery wall splits open, involving the ascending aorta require emergency surgical intervention.It is most common among men over 60 years in age and is most often associated with a history of hypertension. In younger patients it may be caused by the Marfan's syndrome.

Dissections involving the descending aorta require intensive medical management and monitoring for life-threatening complications. Such complications may require surgical or endovascular therapy.

The Center for Diseases of the Thoracic Aorta offers:
  • 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week medical, surgical and interventional radiology services for immediate transfer and treatment of your patients.
  • The latest in endovascular stent-graft technology to treat high-risk patients.
  • A centralized, multidisciplinary approach to assist with the long-term surveillance of patients following successful initial treatment.

Thoracic aortic aneurysm

A thoracic aortic aneurysm (bulge in the wall of the thoracic aorta) is insidious and associated with a high risk of death if left untreated. A rupture occurs in 70  % of patients and these ruptures result in death in 94% of cases.  Appropriate surgical therapy improves long-term survival.

The Center for Diseases of the Thoracic Aorta offers:
  • Initial risk/benefit analysis of medical versus surgical treatment.
  • Evaluation for inclusion in the latest protocols for endovascular therapy.
  • Long-term surveillance to monitor aneurysm growth and determine the appropriate timing for intervention.

Marfan's syndrome

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue, and affects the aorta and its branches along with the heart, eyes and skeleton. Marfan features include tall stature, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), chest wall deformities, nearsightedness, lens dislocation and mitral valve prolapse.

Marfan patients are at high risk for aneurysm formation and aortic dissection.

The Center for Diseases of the Thoracic Aorta offers:

  • Accurate diagnosis of Marfan syndrome by a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, medical geneticists, ophthalmologists and cardiac surgeons.
  • Early treatment of Marfan syndrome patients with the goal of extending life expectancy into the 70s and beyond.
  • The experience and expertise of Alan Braverman, MD, medical director of the Marfan Clinic, and Alison Whelan, MD, medical geneticist, to coordinate the evaluation and management of your patients.

Marfan's syndrome predisposes patients to early aneurysm formation, especially at the aortic root and at the aortic dissection. The condition is secondary to a mutation in the gene for fibrillin and causes abnormal aortic architecture with disorganization of elastin fibers.

The diagnosis is a clinical one. Our specialists at the Marfans Disease Clinic can assist you in evaluating patients suspected of having Marfan's syndrome or family members of Marfan's patients.

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Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine