Aortic Emergency Protocol (Code Aorta)

The aorta is the main artery that supplies oxygenated blood to the circulatory system. Sudden aortic emergencies including dissection and rupture are associated with high mortality rates.

Once patients reach the hospital, outcome is highly dependent on quick diagnosis and treatment. Since these emergencies are relatively rare and require collaboration among multiple disciplines, aortic emergencies are a unique challenge.

Physician leadership at Renown identified aortic emergencies as an opportunity for a multidisciplinary approach to improve coordination and speed of care.

When patients with potential aortic emergencies arrive in the Emergency Room, a "code aorta" is called. This initiates a series of automatic steps by physicians and nursing staff that ensure prompt and effective care.

Thoracic Aorta Program

We worked with our Cardiothoracic (CT) surgeons to develop a strategy to identify and track patients who have potentially life-threatening diseases of the aorta in the chest. Since many of these patients will need further interventions in the future, treating these patients does not stop once they have had surgery.

We create long-term surveillance and medical management strategies for patients with disease of the thoracic aorta, including those with aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection who have undergone repair.

Endovascular Aortic Stent Surveillance

Increasingly, diseases of the aorta are repaired without surgery by placing a stent-graft using a catheter introduced into the femoral artery in the groin. A stent-graft is a tube made up of fabric, which is supported by a metal mesh, that can be placed across diseased sections of the aorta. It helps create a new track for the blood to flow inside the aorta, diverting it from the aneurysm or dissection. The stent-graft is permanent.

While stent-grafts have revolutionized aortic disease treatment, they do require frequent imaging (CT scan, MRI scans or vascular ultrasound) to make sure they continue to function correctly over time.

Every patient who has a stent graft placed at Renown is also in a long-term imaging surveillance program. The clinical staff at Renown Vascular Care help ensure that surveillance is scheduled appropriately and that the results are shared with all members of the treatment team.