Incidence and Prevalence of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Population-Based Studies

Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Spring;34(1):1-16. doi: 10.1053/j.semtcvs.2021.02.029. Epub 2021 Mar 8.


Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) may grow asymptomatically until they rupture, with a mortality over 90%. The true incidence and prevalence of this condition is uncertain and epidemiologic data is scarce, understudied and dispersed. Therefore, we aimed to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the incidence and prevalence of TAAs in population-based studies. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and CENTRAL from inception to October 2020 for all population-based studies reporting on incidence and/or prevalence of TAAs. Data were pooled using a random effects model. The main outcome was the overall available worldwide incidence and prevalence of TAAs. The secondary outcomes were to evaluate the incidence of ruptured TAAs, differences in the location of these aneurysms (either ascending, arch or descending aorta) and differences in prevalence/incidence across different study designs. Twenty-two studies were included in the review and meta-analysis. The pooled incidence and prevalence of TAAs was 5.3 per 100,000 individuals/year (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.0; 8.3) and 0.16% (95% CI: 0.12; 0.20), respectively. The pooled incidence of ruptured aneurysms was 1.6 per 100,000 individuals/year (95% CI: 1.3; 2.1). We found a significant difference of the prevalence in autopsy-only studies, which was 0.76% (95% CI: 0.47; 1.13) and the prevalence of TAAs dropped down to 0.07% (95% CI: 0.05;0.11) when these studies were excluded from the overall analysis. The current epidemiologic information provided serve as a base for future public-health decisions. The lack of well-design population-base studies and the limitations encountered serve as calling for future research in this field.

Keywords: Epidemiologic study; Incidence; Meta-analysis; Prevalence; Thoracic aortic aneurysms.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Aneurysm* / complications
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Treatment Outcome