Aortic Dissection


We Help Arizona Victims of Aortic Dissection Injured by Medical Malpractice

The aorta is the large artery which carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the rest of the body.  Like all blood vessels, it has three layers: the adventitia, which is the outermost layer, the media, which is the middle layer, and the intima, which is the innermost layer.  Normally the aorta is very flexible and can easily take the pounding of the surging blood being expelled from the heart.  Certain conditions, however, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or high blood pressure, can cause it to become more brittle.

When that happens, a small tear may develop in the innermost layer which permits the surging blood to get between the layers.  The surging blood separates or dissects the layers of the aorta, pushing them apart.  This dissection usually causes a sudden, intense, tearing pain, sometimes described as the worst pain the patient has ever experienced.  An aortic dissection is a major emergency.  If you suspect a dissection, call 911 or go to the emergency department immediately.

Understanding Aortic Dissection

A dissection can occur in the ascending aorta, which is the portion of the aorta nearest the heart, in the aortic arch, or in the descending or abdominal aorta, which is further away from the heart.  Dissections of the ascending aorta are usually treated with surgery to contain, repair or replace the damaged portion.  Dissections away from the ascending aorta may sometimes be treated with medication instead of surgery.  The most common outcome of an untreated dissection of the ascending aorta is that it separates the layers back to the heart and fills the sac that covers the outer layers of the heart with blood.  Once this happens, the heart can no longer beat and death occurs within minutes.

A dissection of either the aortic arch or the descending aorta is less likely to go back to the heart sac, but may balloon out and rupture.  Any rupture of the aorta will cause death in minutes.  It is critically important, therefore, for doctors to diagnose a dissection of the aorta before the dissection can rupture or migrate back to the heart sac.

Contact Our Phoenix, Arizona Medical Malpractice Law Firm for Claims Involving Aortic Dissection

Contact us at (602) 648-3200 about any medical negligence that you or a loved one may have experienced involving aortic dissection.  Consultations are free and confidential.