Aortic dissection is a life-threatening condition caused by a tear in the intimal layer of the aorta or bleeding within the aortic wall, resulting in the separation (dissection) of the layers of the aortic wall. Aortic dissection is most common in those 65-75 years of age, with an incidence of 35 cases per 100,000 people per year in this population. Other risk factors include hypertension, dyslipidaemia and genetic disorders that involve the connective tissue, such as Marfan syndrome. Swift diagnostic confirmation and adequate treatment are crucial in managing affected patients. Contemporary management is multidisciplinary and includes serial non-invasive imaging, biomarker testing and genetic risk profiling for aortopathy. The choice of approach for repairing or replacing the damaged region of the aorta depends on the severity and the location of the dissection and the risks of complication from surgery. Open surgical repair is most commonly used for dissections involving the ascending aorta and the aortic arch, whereas minimally invasive endovascular intervention is appropriate for descending aorta dissections that are complicated by rupture, malperfusion, ongoing pain, hypotension or imaging features of high risk. Recent advances in the understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of aortic dissection have led to more patients being considered at substantial risk of complications and, therefore, in need of endovascular intervention rather that only medical or surgical intervention.
Nienaber, C. A. et al. Aortic dissection. Nat. Rev. Dis. Primers 2, 16053 (2016).