Aortic dissection is a potentially life-threatening condition in which a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.
Aortic dissection occurs in approximately two out of every 10,000 people.
With an aortic dissection, blood surges through the tear into and along the wall of the aorta, causing the inner and middle layers to separate (dissect).
If the blood-filled channel ruptures through the aortic wall, aortic dissection is usually fatal.
Aortic dissection can affect anyone, but is most often found in men, aged 40 to 70.
Most commonly associated with high blood pressure, an aortic dissection also can result from atherosclerosis.
Other risk factors include:
At UPMC, treatment of aortic dissection is handled by experts from either the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery or the Division of Vascular Surgery.The UPMC Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease is a specialty program led by cardiothoracic surgeons at UPMC. The Center offers a full range of treatments for disorders and diseases affecting the aorta, including aortic dissection.
Aortic dissection can occur suddenly, and most cases appear in the emergency department as a sudden catastrophic event.
Like all types of aneurysms, there may be no symptoms of an aortic dissection.
You may experience a sharp, tearing pain in your chest or upper back, or feel pain in your:
Since most aortic dissection cases are diagnosed in the emergency room, the emergency physician will perform a physical exam, and then rapidly proceed with imaging studies, including:
Aortic dissection is a life-threatening condition requiring hospitalization, usually in an intensive care unit (ICU).
The condition can be managed if it is diagnosed and treated before the aorta ruptures.
Fewer than half of patients with a ruptured aorta survive; 60 percent of patients treated for aortic dissection are alive 10 years later.
Cardiothoracic surgeons from the Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease and vascular surgeons from the Division of Vascular Surgery offer treatment for aortic dissection.
Request an appointment today.
Request an appointment online, call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484), or email us.
Refer a patient: 1-866-884-8579
Watch EMMI patient education videos about:
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by
A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com