Dissecting aneurysm of the aorta (dilation)

Chest | - Others | Dissecting aneurysm of the aorta (dilation) (Disease)


Aneurysms can occur anywhere throughout the circulatory system, but most commonly develop along the aorta (the body’s main artery that runs the length of the trunk from the heart) and in blood vessels of the brain. Aneurysms are potentially fatal if they rupture. Death can occur within minutes.

About 96% of individuals with aortic dissection present with severe pain that had a sudden onset. It may be described as tearing in nature, or stabbing or sharp in character. 17% of individuals will feel the pain migrate as the dissection extends down the aorta. The location of pain is associated with the location of the dissection.

Causes and Risk factors

Aortic dissection occurs when a tear in the inner wall of the aorta causes blood to flow between the layers of the wall of the aorta and force the layers apart. The dissection typically extends anterograde, but can extend retrograde from the site of the intimal tear. Aortic dissection is a medical emergency and can quickly lead to death, even with optimal treatment. If the dissection tears the aorta completely open (through all three layers), massive and rapid blood loss occurs. Aortic dissections resulting in rupture have an 80% mortality rate, and 50% of patients die before they even reach the hospital.

Diagnosis and Treatment

All acute ascending aortic dissections require emergency surgery to prevent rupture and death. Chronic enlargement of the ascending aorta from aneurism or previously unrecognized and untreated aortic dissections is repaired electively when it reaches 6 cm (2. 4 in) in size and surgery may be recommended between for as little as 4. 5 cm (1. 8 in) in size if the patient has one of several connective tissue disorders or a family history of ruptured aorta. ...