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Dissecting Thoracic Aneurysm

Aneurysm refers to a localized dilation or widening of an artery, especially in the abdominal aorta. Dilation occurs to an extent more than 50%. Dissecting thoracic aneurysm is a condition where a tear occurs on the thoracic aorta. This creates a passage for blood between the aortal layers and leads to a dangerous condition. A false channel is thus created for the arterial blood. Besides it may hamper the blood supply to tributary arteries.

When there is excessive dilation of the artery, an aortic aneurysm can rupture. Internal bleeding can result and can be life-threatening. Usually the symptoms begin to appear when the aneurysm has become fairly large. A person suffering from dissecting thoracic aneurysm experiences severe abdominal and back pain. The pain is high up on the back, between the shoulder blades. There is increased risk of stroke or heart attack. The voice becomes hoarse and there is difficulty in swallowing. Persons suffering from dissection may experience symptoms similar to paraplegia or stroke due to impaired blood supply to the spinal chord and limbs. Marfan's syndrome is a variant of this condition. Traumatic aneurysms are caused by injury to the chest or blunt chest trauma.


Diagnosis of dissecting thoracic aneurysm is done with a routine physical examination as well as chest and abdominal x-rays. MRI scan also helps in determining the precise location of the aneurysm. Transthoracic ultrasonography aids in accurate sizing of the aneurysm. Patients suffering from thoracic aneurysm condition are advised to avoid smoking and get regular medical check ups done. Blood pressure must be lowered with drugs to reduce the impact on the aortal tear. Surgical treatment for dissecting thoracic aneurysm involves replacing the affected part of the aorta with a synthetic graft.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 13, 2017