About the UPMC Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease

Advanced Care With a Single Office Visit

The UPMC Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease (CTAD) is a center of excellence established by the UPMC Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery to facilitate comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up for patients with thoracic aortic disease.

A critical aspect of the CTAD is the multidisciplinary approach to patient care.

Patients with thoracic aortic disease often must consult many different specialists to address various aspects of their disease. At the CTAD, our system of care has been specially designed to better accommodate the patient.

When patients are referred to the CTAD, they undergo a comprehensive evaluation by the integrated, multidisciplinary team, at one location — the Thoracic Aortic Clinic at UPMC University Center, located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

We offer consultations by specialists, including:

  • Cardiologists
  • Cardiovascular surgeons
  • Geneticists
  • Radiologists
  • Vascular surgeons
  • Neurologists

These appointments often can be coordinated with diagnostic imaging and cardiology testing in the same clinic, often in the same day.

Improving Care Through Research and Education

The CTAD’s surgeons are actively involved in ongoing research to advance patient care and form new strategies to better manage thoracic aortic disease.

For example, CTAD surgeons have developed ways to reconstruct a patient’s aortic root while preserving the heart’s native valve. This offers an alternative to valve replacement with a mechanical valve (which could require patients to take blood thinners for the rest of their lives), or a tissue valve (which could require additional surgeries).

The development of minimally invasive approaches is also a priority of the CTAD.

Compared to traditional, open surgery, minimally invasive approaches offer patients the potential for:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Fewer complications
  • A quicker recovery

Qualifying patients may be treated with thoracic endovascular therapy (stent grafts), a minimally invasive approach that could delay, or eliminate, the need for open-heart surgery.

Breaking Down Barriers, Coordinating Care

By bringing specialized testing and experts to the patient, the CTAD helps break down communication barriers, so that specialists can more closely collaborate on treatment planning for patients with thoracic aortic disease.

Referring physicians need only to make a single phone call to the CTAD to initiate a comprehensive evaluation for their patient.

In fact, a fundamental mission of the CTAD is helping primary care, emergency medicine, and subspecialty providers identify, treat, follow, and track the progress of their patients with thoracic aortic disease.  

Pre-hospital referrals and transfers for thoracic aortic emergencies  like an aortic dissection, ruptured aneurysm, or traumatic aortic injury are rapidly facilitated with a single phone call, from the patient or provider, to the CTAD’s hotline.

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