• January 2018

    Dedicated Center Takes Proactive Approach to Thoracic Aortic Disease

In patients with risk factors or symptoms of thoracic aortic disease, early identification and management often provide for expanded treatment options and a reduction in acute events. The Aortic Center, a part of Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano’s Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Care, offers a comprehensive, proactive approach to diagnosing, monitoring and treating these conditions.

The center brings together a team of physicians dedicated to evaluating and treating patients with conditions such as thoracic aortic aneurysms, thoracoabdominal aneurysms, acute and chronic Type A and B dissections, penetrating aortic ulcers, and intramural hematoma. The team works to determine an individualized treatment plan for each patient, including monitoring, medical therapy and surgical intervention.

In patients with a family history or medical conditions that put them at high risk for aortic disease, the center offers a screening program to detect any areas of concern. If thoracic aortic disease is found, imaging services are available onsite to further evaluate the condition. In addition, the clinic offers genetic testing and counseling which can be critical to understanding patient risk.

“The goal of our clinic is to pick these things up before they become life-threatening,” said William T. Brinkman, MD, medical director, Aortic Center. “Fixing them before you have a life-threatening problem is a lot easier on the surgeon and the patient.”

When surgical intervention is indicated, the center offers a wide range of endovascular and open techniques. Advanced endovascular options include those to fix the ascending aorta, the aortic arch and the thoracoabdominal aorta.

“We have a team that can do all modalities depending on what is indicated,” Dr. Brinkman said. “We try to keep it minimally invasive when possible, and we have access to newer, advanced devices, so if a procedure can be done endovascularly, we can do it here.”

Some technologies offered through the center, such as endovascular treatment of the aortic arch or the thoracoabdominal aorta, are not widely available or are still in trial. Currently, Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano is involved in studies investigating the efficacy of the GORE® TAG® Thoracic Branch Endoprosthesis in treating lesions of the aortic arch and descending thoracic aorta, as well as a study on treating thoracoabdominal aneurysms endovascularly.

Through the Aortic Center’s multidisciplinary approach, wide range of treatment options and dedication to innovative care, Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano saw record volumes for thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery, as well as quality outcomes, last year. These volumes and outcomes validate the center’s role as a comprehensive resource for the management of thoracic aortic disease.

“For these complex cases, our team can help decide what needs to be done,” Dr. Brinkman said. “The clinic includes cardiac and vascular surgeons on the medical staff of THHBP who are focused on aortic disease and can help physicians manage these problems, whether they are emergent or chronic.”

To schedule a patient for evaluation at the Aortic Center, call 469.814.3480. For patients presenting with acute aortic dissections and other thoracic aortic emergencies, call our Patient Transfer Center at 214.820.6444 from anywhere in the Metroplex to receive immediate transport and intervention.

Contributing Authors

William Brinkman, MD
Medical Director of Thoracic Aortic Surgery
Baylor Scott & WhiteThe Heart Hospital Baylor – Plano