Aortic – Team
Reference physicians: Dr. Antonio Rizza, Dr. Cataldo Antonio Carmine Palmieri, Dr. Pier Andrea Farneti, Dr. Michele Murzi, Dr. Giovanni Credi (Director of the Vascular Surgery Unit of the Ospedale delle Apuane of the Toscana Nord-Ovest Local Healthcare Authority)
Diseases of the Aorta
The aorta is the main artery of our body and carries oxygenated blood to all tissues.
It is about 30-40 cm long and comes from the heart. At the beginning, it crosses the chest, where 3 parts are recognised: the ascending aorta, the aortic arch (which gives rise to the vessels that carry blood to the brain) and the descending aorta. Then, the aorta passes into the abdomen (called the thoraco-abdominal aorta) and becomes the abdominal aorta (which gives rise to the vessels that go to all the abdominal organs). The abdominal aorta continues, then branches into 2 large arteries (the iliacs), which carry blood to the lower limbs.
The most important diseases of the aorta are:
- Aneurysms, or dilatations of one or more areas of the aorta, which form over time, often without symptoms, due to various risk factors, genetic or otherwise, including smoking and hypertension;
- Acute Aortic Syndromes, which are very serious acute-onset conditions requiring quick intervention with outstanding multidisciplinary competencies. This term covers: dissection, penetrating ulcer and wall hematoma. These are situations with a very high mortality rate or serious consequences for the patient, because they actually rupture the wall of the aorta, which, as mentioned, is the main artery of the body. Diagnosis – first – and rapid and effective treatment – second – are the main prerequisites for a good outcome. For this reason, they are called time-dependent pathologies, and therefore it is necessary to have well-trained and well-organised staff in-house, not only within that single hospital, but also in the entire hospital network;
- Atherosclerotic plaques (atheromas) and calcifications, mainly in the aortic arch and abdominal aorta;
- Degenerative diseases, which can cause dilatations and aneurysms: Erdheim cystic medial necrosis and Marfan syndrome;
- Takayasu’s disease, which occurs between the ages of 20 and 40, causing inflammation of the walls of the aorta;
- Infectious aortitis, an infection of the aortic walls by bacteria, viruses and fungi (e.g. syphilis).
The Monasterio also houses the bioengineering laboratory BioCardioLab dedicated to studying the biomechanics of the aorta using precision medicine approaches.
The Aortic – Team participates and collaborates in the BioCardioLab research activities, forming a multidisciplinary group that is unique in Italy. At this laboratory, specific test benches and software applications have been developed to study aortic pathology by integrating advanced techniques such as:
mechanical characterisation of biological tissues
morphological and functional imaging (CT, MR and US)
numerical simulations (structural and fluid dynamics)
Fondazione Toscana G. Monasterio, through BioCardioLab, is a partner of the European project Meditate The Medical Digital Twin for Aneurysm Prevention and Treatment
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