Aortic dissection…

June 16, 2014

Chest, Chest XR, CT, Non-Trauma, Vascular, XR


This patient presented with chest pain radiating to the back:

AD CXR 1

 

The patient’s initial chest X-ray shows a widened mediastinum and an indistinct aortopulmonary window.  CT showed:

AD CT 1 AD CT 2 AD CT 3

This patient has an aortic dissection.  There are two different classification systems for aortic dissection:  Stanford and DeBakey (1).

Stanford Criteria:

  • Type A:  The dissection flap involves the ascending aorta
  • Type B:  The dissection commences distal to the left sub-clavian artery

DeBakey Criteria

  • Type I: The dissection flap involves the ascending aorta and descending aorta
  • Type II:  The dissection flap involves the ascending aorta only
  • Type III:  The dissection flap involves the descending aorta only

This is a Stanford Type A and a Debakey Type I because it involves the ascending aortic arch all the way to the iliac bifurcation.

What is important to remember (besides the number for a cardiothoracic surgeon)?  If the flap involves the ascending aorta these are usually managed operatively. Descending dissections are many times managed medically (1).

Besides rupture, the main problem with aortic dissection is perfusion to various organs.  Virtually every solid organ can be affected depending on the spacial characteristics of the dissection flap.  In this case the last image clearly shows that the right kidney is not perfused, indicating that the dissection flap has occluded the right renal artery.  The kidneys and bowel are the most common organs to develop ischemia.

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

Image Contributor:  Jay Williams, MD

References

  1. Broder JS.  Diagnostic Imaging for the Emergency Physician.  Elsevier, 2011.
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