The aorta, the main vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body, is made of 3 layers. An aortic dissection is a tear that occurs between the innermost and middle layers of the aorta. Both men and women are affected. Aortic dissections can compromise blood flow to your kidneys, liver, bowels and legs. This condition is called malperfusion and can cause kidney failure, paralysis and a lack of blood flow to the legs.
Aortic dissections can also cause your aorta to rupture, which may lead to life-threatening bleeding.
High blood pressure, cocaine use, smoking and some genetic connective tissue disorders make dissections more likely to occur.
Treatment of aortic dissections depends on the type of dissection.
- Type A (ascending) dissections involve the aorta in the front of the chest, right next to the heart.
- Emergency treatment is required because a heart attack is possible.
- Usually, treatment is traditional surgery involving opening the chest and repairing and/or replacing the torn aorta.
- Type B (descending) dissections occur in the aorta elsewhere in the chest and abdomen.
- If you have no symptoms, you may not need treatment.
- If the dissection is chronic, it may cause an enlargement (aneurysm) of the aorta. Depending on the circumstances, minimally invasive stent grafts or open surgery can be required.
- If you are experiencing a lack of blood flow to an organ or a limb or bleeding, emergency treatment is needed. Usually, treatment is an endovascular stent graft, a minimally invasive procedure to reline the torn aorta and repair the dissection.
Open and endovascular repair of aortic aneurysm depends on the patient\'s individual anatomy and general health status.