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Conditions We Treat: Aortic Dissection

The wall of the aorta is made of three flexible layers to handle the constant volume of blood sent through it from the heart. An aortic dissection occurs when the inner wall tears, allowing blood to enter the space between layers.

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Aortic Dissection: What You Need to Know

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  • A sharp pain in the chest or upper back, often described as a ripping or tearing sensation, may signal aortic dissection. The pain can radiate down the back.
  • There are two types of aortic dissection. Type A aortic dissection is the more dangerous and usually requires surgery. Type B is often managed through blood pressure control.
  • Risk factors include chronic high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and certain inherited conditions. Traumatic injury to the chest may cause aortic dissection in people who do not have other risk factors.
  • Early detection increases your chances of survival. To diagnose aortic dissection, your doctor may order a computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan or a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).


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Why choose Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute for treatment of aortic aneurysm?

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Our Specialty Centers

The Dana & Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Center for Aortic Diseases is one of the few centers in the world specializing in conditions of the aorta.