Emergent Aortic Dissection Repair

Aortic dissection is a life-threatening condition in which the walls of the aorta separate and tear. The aorta is the main blood vessel that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic dissection can cause poor blood supply to the heart, brain, or other major organs.

Emergent treatment of aortic dissection involves rapid open-chest surgical repair. Doctors will perform this surgery when the dissection involves the portion of the aorta just above the heart, called the ascending aorta

Surgeons enter the chest through the breast bone. Then, they remove the ascending aorta and replace it with a tube, called a graft. The graft is made from medical-grade cloth called Dacron. Dacron is often used often to repair or replace blood vessels.

The surgeon also applies biological glue to strengthen the layers of the vessel wall. Doctors use the heart and lung machine to support the patient’s breathing and blood circulation during surgery.

When the dissection involves the descending aorta (in the belly) treatment can include intensive medical management and control of blood pressure. In certain patients, there is danger of rupture or impaired blood flow to organs or to the legs. In these patients, stent-graft repair may be used to seal off the torn portion of the aorta.

Recovery after repair of aortic dissection depends on the type of procedure, the location of the dissection and your other medical conditions. Most patients will require monitoring in the intensive care unit for several days and may require additional procedures before going home.

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