Is Surgery Necessary for Problems With the Aorta?

Mild-to-moderate aortic stenosis does not require surgery, but when it causes symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, surgery is necessary, according to MedicineNet. Small aneurysms in the aorta that aren't causing symptoms are monitored until they become problematic, at which point surgery is required, says WebMD.

When aortic stenosis becomes severe, valve replacement surgery is recommended, notes MedicineNet. In older patients and those who cannot take blood thinners, valves from pigs and cows are used. Younger patients may receive a mechanical valve or one from a human cadaver. Mechanical replacements last 20-to-40 years, those from cows and pigs last 10-to-15 years, and the durability of human replacement valves is unknown. A temporary, short-term alternative to valve replacement is a procedure called valvuloplasty, in which a small balloon is inserted to enlarge the aortic valve area.

When an aortic aneurysm requires surgery, a doctor inserts a metal coil and a synthetic graft into the femoral artery and then guides it to the aorta, explains MedlinePlus. When the stent reaches the site of the aneurysm, the doctor opens the coil and attaches it to the walls of the aorta. This type of surgery is recommended if an aneurysm is large and deteriorating quickly.