What is the role of aneurysmal degeneration in the etiology of thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA)?

Updated: Apr 02, 2021
  • Author: Elaine Tseng, MD; Chief Editor: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM  more...
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Aneurysmal degeneration occurs more commonly in the aging population. Aging results in changes in collagen and elastin, which lead to weakening of the aortic wall and aneurysmal dilation. According to the law of Laplace, luminal dilation results in increased wall tension and the vicious cycle of progressive dilation and greater wall stress. Pathologic sequelae of the aging aorta include elastic fiber fragmentation and cystic medial necrosis. Arteriosclerotic (degenerative) disease is the most common cause of thoracic aneurysms.

A previous aortic dissection with a persistent false channel may produce aneurysmal dilation; such aneurysms are the second most common type. False aneurysms are more common in the descending aorta and arise from the extravasation of blood into a tenuous pocket contained by the aortic adventitia. Because of increasing wall stress, false aneurysms tend to enlarge over time.

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