Munson Health
 
Aortic Dissection

Back to Document

by Polsdorfer R
 

Causes

Elevated blood pressure and a diseased aorta are the principal causes, usually due to atherosclerosis . Other congenital and acquired afflictions of the aorta also increase the chances of dissection.
 

Diagnosis

The usual case of aortic dissection appears in the emergency department as a sudden catastrophic event. Your emergency physician will ask about your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical exam, and then rapidly proceed with any of several possible imaging studies.
Tests may include the following:
  • Chest x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
  • Echocardiogram —a test that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Aortography—x-rays taken after dye is injected into the aorta through a surgically placed catheter
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org/

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

 

References


Isselbacher K, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998.


The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/CVMHighLight?file=/mrkshared/mmanual/section16/chapter211/211b.jsp%3Fregion%3Dmerckcom&word=aortic&word=dissection&domain=www.merck.com#hl%5Fanchor . Accessed July 2005.


Mukherjee D, Eagle KA. Aortic dissection–an update. Curr Probl Cardiol . 2005 Jun;30(6):287-325.

 

Revision Information