An aortic dissection is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment. Therapy may include surgery or medications, depending on the area of the aorta involved.
Type A aortic dissection
Treatment for type A aortic dissection may include:
- Surgery. Surgeons remove as much of the dissected aorta as possible, block the entry of blood into the aortic wall and reconstruct the aorta with a synthetic tube called a graft. If the aortic valve leaks as a result of the damaged aorta, it may be replaced at the same time. The new valve is placed within the graft used to reconstruct the aorta.
- Medications. Some medications, such as beta blockers and nitroprusside (Nitropress), reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can prevent the aortic dissection from worsening. They may be given to people with type A aortic dissection to stabilize blood pressure before surgery.
Type B aortic dissection
Treatment of type B aortic dissection may include:
- Surgery. The procedure is similar to that used to correct a type A aortic dissection. Sometimes stents — small wire mesh tubes that act as a sort of scaffolding — may be placed in the aorta to repair complicated type B aortic dissections.
- Medications. The same medications that are used to treat type A aortic dissection may be used without surgery to treat type B aortic dissections.
After treatment, you may need to take blood pressure lowering medication for life. In addition, you may need follow-up CTs or MRIs periodically to monitor your condition.
Oct. 28, 2014
- Manning WJ. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of aortic dissection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 8, 2014.
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- AskMayoExpert. Thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- JCS Joint Working Group. Guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection. Circulation Journal. 2013;77:789.
- Prevention: What you can do. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/what_you_can_do.htm. Accessed Sept. 8, 2014.