Surgical resection for thoracic aortic aneurysms is generally recommended when the aneurysm's size is 5 centimeters or greater, according to Cleveland Clinic. Some surgeons also calculate the risk of aneurysm rupture by using the patient's height and the aneurysm size when deciding if surgery is needed.
Despite the size of the aneurysm, patients may require surgery if their aneurysms cause symptoms such as chest, jaw, upper back or neck pain, explains Cleveland Clinic. Surgery is also performed if a patient exhibits symptoms of aortic dissection, including sudden, severe, sharp or tearing pain across the chest or back. Aneurysms that grow more than 1 centimeter per year typically require surgical resection. When determining the need for aneurysm resection, doctors also take into account the patient's age and overall health status.
Depending on the aneurysm's location, thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery usually requires an incision in the front of the chest or the left side of the chest, according to Cleveland Clinic. The length of the surgery varies based on the extent of repair required. Some potential complications of surgical resection include heart attack, irregular heart rhythms, stroke, infection and kidney damage. Most patients stay in the hospital for about seven days after surgery and make a full recovery in four to six weeks.