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Saint Thomas Heart

Surgery for Aortic Dissection

Aortic dissection, usually caused by high blood pressure, is a condition that forces the layers of the wall of the aorta apart through increased blood flow. Over time, the high pressure of the blood flow can cause a weakened area of the aorta to bulge like a balloon. This pressure stretches the aorta, causes an aortic dissection, or tear. The person experiencing this condition will feel severe, sharp, tearing pain in the chest and back.

Acute aortic dissection can be treated surgically or medically. Medical management is the treatment of choice for descending aortic dissections unless they are leaking or ruptured. Medical management consists of decreasing the blood pressure through antihypertensive therapy, including beta-blockers.

However, in acute or emergency situations, surgery will be performed. The area of the aorta with the tear will be reinforced and replaced with a Dacron graft.