Aortic Dissection

Aortic dissection occurs when there is a separation in the aorta, most commonly because of a tear or damage to the inner wall of the aorta. When a tear occurs, some blood continues to travel through the aorta, while some blood stays still. If the blood that stays still gets bigger, it can push and narrow the other branches of the aorta and reduce blood flow. Aortic dissection may cause aortic aneurysm. 

Risk factors

  • Aging
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Atheroscelerosis, or hardening of the arteries
  • Blunt trauma to the chest


Treatment for aortic dissection includes controlling and repairing the tear, if necessary. Your doctor's treatment recommendations will depend on the type of dissection and its location but can include medication or surgery.

Surgery for Aortic Dissection

Surgery is necessary if the dissection happened near where the aorta leaves the heart (called a type A dissection). During surgery, your surgeon:

  • Removes the dissected portion of the aorta
  • Connects a synthetic tube, called a graft, to take the place of the dissected portion of the aorta

If the dissection happened in the descending aorta (type B dissection), your doctor may recommend managing it with medications used to control high blood pressure as well as monitoring the condition. If the dissection worsens, your doctor may recommend surgery.