Aortic dissection

Alternative Names

Aortic aneurysm – dissecting

Definition of Aortic dissection

Aortic dissection is a potentially life-threatening condition in which there is bleeding into and along the wall of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

When it leaves the heart, the aorta first moves up through the chest toward the head (the ascending aorta). It then bends or arches, and finally moves down through the chest and abdomen (the descending aorta).

Symptoms

The symptoms usually begin suddenly, and include severe . The pain may:

Signs and tests

The health care provider will take your family history and listen to your heart, lungs, and abdomen with a stethoscope. A “blowing” murmur over the aorta, a heart murmur, or other abnormal sound may be heard.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to prevent complications. Hospitalization is required.

Expectations (prognosis)

Aortic dissection is life threatening. The condition can be managed with surgery if it is done before the aorta ruptures. Less than half of patients with ruptured aorta survive.

Review

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided byVeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/4/2010

Aortic rupture, chest X-ray
Aortic aneurysm
Aortic dissection

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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