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Complex Aortic Center

Your aorta is the largest blood vessel and is responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. The aorta receives all of the heart’s output under high pressure, making repairs to this crucial artery challenging. 

That is why our Complex Aortic Center brings together two specialties that traditionally have worked apart — the doctors who operate on the heart and its major arteries (cardiac surgeons) and those who operate on the other veins and arteries (vascular surgeons). 

Their combined skill and close partnership provides top care for the aortic tears known as dissections and the bulges called aneurysms. The aortic program at our MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is one of the select few in the Greater D.C. area offering:

  • Complex Procedures: While our experienced team treats all types of aneurysms and dissections, they offer special expertise for complex repairs. Often, these are cases other doctors refer to us, sometimes from more than a hundred miles away. Our doctors treat several of these patients each week.

  • Minimally Invasive Aneurysm Repair throughout the Aorta: We can often find a minimally invasive, endovascular alternative for aortic repair, even when patients are told by other doctors that they cannot have surgery. We make small incisions and use special tools to reach the aorta. We can repair aneurysms throughout the aorta this way.

  • Hybrid Techniques: Certain patients benefit from procedures that combine traditional, open surgery with an endovascular repair, providing optimal treatment for you or your loved one. We perform more of these procedures than any other heart and vascular program in the area.

We design a treatment plan just for you, with the most advanced imaging and the latest stents and stent-grafts — the materials used to make successful repairs. 

Learn more about:

  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Aortic dissections
  • Our aneurysm repair
  • Our aortic dissection treatment

Top Aortic Care at MedStar

Aortic care at our Heart & Vascular Institute stands apart for several reasons:

  • Leading Doctors: The success of our aortic center hinges on top cardiologists and the expertise and experience of our surgeons:

    • Vascular: Board-certified in general and vascular surgery, Edward Woo, MD, directs MedStar’s Regional Vascular Surgery Program and leads a team that treats aortic disease. He is recognized around the world for complex, minimally invasive procedures to treat dissections and aneurysms. Dr. Woo is particularly acclaimed for combining this endovascular approach with traditional surgery, a hybrid technique he has performed hundreds of times and taught to other doctors around the globe. Learn more about hybrid aneurysm repair, or about the aortic center’s vascular team.

    • Cardiac: Well-versed in aneurysm and dissection repair, Christian Shults, MD, is our attending cardiac surgeon, is co-director of the Complex Aortic Center and leads its cardiac team. In addition to being fellowship-trained and board-certified in both surgery and thoracic/cardiac surgery, Dr. Shults has extensive domestic and international training in complex open and endovascular aortic surgery. Learn more about the aortic center’s cardiac team.

  • Team Approach: The vascular and cardiac teams often take a joint approach to challenging cases. They also consult closely beforehand on every patient, reviewing diagnoses and combining their knowledge and judgment to come up with the best recommendation.

  • Clinical Trials and Research: We take part in clinical trials to improve aortic care. Our doctors often create and lead these trials, giving patients even earlier access.

  • Support Services: In addition to all aspects of vascular and cardiac surgical care, MedStar’s Heart and Vascular Institute provides genetic testing, state-of-the-art surgical intensive care (if needed), access to additional specialists and other crucial services. Learn more about our:

Aortic Center Vascular Team

Read the profiles of our vascular team members:

Aortic Center Cardiac Team

Read the profiles of our cardiac team members: