Management of acute aortic dissection
- James H Black, III, MD
James H Black, III, MD
- Associate Professor of Surgery
- Johns Hopkins University
- Warren J Manning, MD
Warren J Manning, MD
- Section Editor — Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging and Stress Testing
- Professor of Medicine and Radiology
- Harvard Medical School
- Section Editors
- Gabriel S Aldea, MD
Gabriel S Aldea, MD
- Section Editor — Cardiac Surgery
- Professor of Surgery
- University of Washington
- Edward Verrier, MD
Edward Verrier, MD
- Section Editor — Cardiac Surgery
- Professor of Surgery
- University of Washington School of Medicine
Thoracic aortic dissection is usually suspected clinically from the history and physical examination when a patient presents with severe, sharp, or "tearing" anterior chest pain (in ascending aortic dissection) or posterior chest or back pain (arch or descending aortic dissection). This diagnosis can be easily overlooked among patients with acute chest pain, and a high index of suspicion is needed to obtain a timely diagnosis such that appropriate initial therapy can be instituted promptly. Advances in imaging and better awareness have improved the diagnosis, which is confirmed using advanced cardiovascular imaging.
The DeBakey and the Stanford (Daily) systems are used to classify aortic dissection (figure 1) [1,2]. The Stanford system, which is more widely used, classifies dissections that involve the ascending aorta as type A, regardless of the site of the primary intimal tear; all other dissections are classified as type B.
The goals of early management of aortic dissection are to control pain and limit the extent of the dissection using anti-impulse therapy, which typically involves administration of beta blockers. Timing of intervention differs for ascending (type A) and descending (type B) thoracic aortic dissection, and thus, early determination of the extent of dissection is important.
The management of acute aortic dissection will be reviewed here. The recommendations are generally in agreement with multidisciplinary cardiovascular guidelines [3-5]. The clinical evaluation and diagnosis of aortic dissection are reviewed separately. Management of other acute aortic syndromes is discussed separately. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of acute aortic dissection" and "Overview of acute aortic syndromes" and "Overview of acute aortic syndromes", section on 'Definition and pathophysiology'.)
ACUTE MEDICAL MANAGEMENT
Acute medical management of acute aortic syndromes including aortic dissection involves controlling pain, and providing anti-impulse therapy in the form of blood pressure lowering and decreasing the velocity of left ventricular contraction, to decrease aortic shear stress and minimize the tendency for the dissection to propagate (table 1). Medications and dosing used in acute aortic dissection are similar to other acute aortic syndromes and are reviewed separately (table 2). (See "Overview of acute aortic syndromes", section on 'Acute medical management'.)To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- ACUTE MEDICAL MANAGEMENT
- TYPE AND ETIOLOGY OF DISSECTION
- Extent and classification
- ASCENDING (TYPE A) AORTIC DISSECTION
- Efficacy of intervention
- Medical risk assessment
- - Prognostic factors
- Extent of open repair
- Role for endovascular repair
- DESCENDING (TYPE B) AORTIC DISSECTION
- Efficacy of medical management
- - Endovascular repair
- - Open repair
- LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT
- Anti-impulse therapy
- Identifying associated genetic conditions
- Serial imaging
- Recurrent dissection
- Reintervention for endograft complications
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS