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What is tortuosity of the thoracic aorta?

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Quick Answer

Tortuosity of the thoracic aorta is a slight twist in the normal curvature of the aorta, according to Dr. Joseph H. Roosth writing for HealthTap. Tortuosity of the thoracic aorta is normally found on a chest X-ray.

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Full Answer

It is difficult to be certain of the size, shape or course of the aorta on a chest X-ray, according to Dr. Benjamin Y. Cheong of Texas Heart Institute. There are two different meanings of a tortuous aorta. Most commonly, having tortuosity of the aorta means there are more bends in the aorta than usual, which is normal in an aging individual. The second meaning is an enlargement of the aorta, which calls for medical attention.

Enlargement of the heart, or cardiomegaly, is a symptom of another condition, according to Mayo Clinic. Individuals may develop a temporary enlargement of the heart due to stress on the body, such as pregnancy, or because of a medical issue, such as weakening of the heart or coronary artery disease. In order to properly diagnose the exact cause of the enlargement, further medical testing is necessary.

Before taking further steps, a cardiologist may advise an individual to undergo a series of medical evaluations to determine the cause of the enlarged heart, which may include a CT scan, an MRI or a stress test. If it is deemed necessary, the condition causing the enlargement could be treated by medications, medical procedures or surgical options.

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