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Aortic Dissections

What is Aortic Dissection?

Aortic dissection occurs when the inner layer of the aorta tears. The outpouring of blood causes the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate. If this causes a rupture through the outside aortic wall,the occurrence will likely be fatal. High blood pressure is often involved.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Sudden and severe pain in the chest or upper back that feels like a ripping sensation
  • Sudden severe abdominal pain
  • Sudden difficulty with speech, vision or paralysis on one side (stroke-like symptoms)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of consciousness

These symptoms may mimic a heart attack or stroke. In any case, seek immediate medical assistance if any or all of these symptoms occur.

How is it Diagnosed?

There are some key signs of an aortic dissection, such as a sudden tearing chest pain, varying blood pressure between right and left arm and a chest X-ray that shows an apparent widening of the aorta. however, to confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will need the results of an imaging test, such as a CT scan, MRI or Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

How is it Treated?

This is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately. In Type A dissections, surgery is required to stop the bleeding and reconstruct the aorta with a graft or synthetic tube. In Type B dissections, sometimes medications to lower blood pressure and relieve pain are the treatment, while other times surgery is required.

Previous Page Last Review Date: May 15, 2019
Aortic Dissections Team
Richard Faro, MD, FACS

Richard Faro, MD, FACS

Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery
Palm Beach Gardens 33410
Joseph Motta, MD, FACS

Joseph Motta, MD, FACS

Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery
Palm Beach Gardens 33410
Nishant D. Patel, MD

Nishant D. Patel, MD

Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery
Palm Beach Gardens 33410, Delray Beach 33484