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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. Aortic dissection, particularly when close to the heart, can be immediately life-threatening.

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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 aortic dissection is mostly managed through blood pressure control and stent-graft therapy can be used when complications of the tear occur.
  • Risk factors include chronic high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and certain inherited conditions such as Marfan Syndrome and Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. 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 dissection?

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Our Treatments

Johns Hopkins surgeons have been leading in the arena of aortic aneurysm repair for over 50 years.  No other team of vascular surgeons, cardiac surgeons and nursing teams, both locally and nationally, carry the experience to address safely aortic aneurysm disease in all its forms and challenges. Our vascular surgeons are pioneers in minimally invasive aortic aneurysm surgery, using the fenestrated abdominal aortic aneurysm graft. Indeed, Johns Hopkins Surgeons have more experience in complex aortic repairs, including techniques such as fenestrated grafts and parallel grafts, than any other single center in the mid-Atlantic region.  In addition to our surgeon teams, your care is greatly improved by a team of phenomenal nurses and therapists who are equally experienced with your recovery from surgery and are eager to assist you to full recovery.

Learn more about this revolutionary new treatment.
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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.