The aorta is the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
The surgical removal of some portion of a diseased aorta is called aortic resection. A synthetic graft is used to replace the diseased aortic tissue. With the passage of time the body deposits its own tissue into the graft. The durability of these grafts exceeds the human life span.
Aortic dissection occurs when the inner layer of the aorta’s artery wall splits open (dissects). This is more likely to occur where pressure on the artery wall from blood flow is high. One such place is the ascending aorta (the first segment of the aorta), where the aorta originates from the heart’s left ventricle (pumping chamber). When the aortic wall splits, the pulses of blood get inside the artery wall and under the inner layer. This makes the aorta split further. This tear usually continues away from the heart down the descending aorta and into its major branches. Less often the tear may run back toward the heart and can affect the aortic valve causing it to leak badly or affect blood flow into the coronary arteries supplying the heart causing a heart attack.
An aneurysm (AN'u-rizm) is a bulge in a blood vessel, much like a bulge on an over-inflated inner tube.
The aorta, the main artery leading away from the heart, can sometimes develop an aneurysm. Aortic aneurysms usually occur in the abdomen below the kidneys (abdominal aneurysm), but may occur in the chest cavity (thoracic, tho-RAS'ik aneurysm). This can happen if the wall of the aorta becomes weakened by build ups of fatty deposits called plaque or from chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure. A synthetic graft is used to replace the aorta where the aneurysm was, much like replacing a bad piece of pipe in plumbing.