What is an aortic dissection, and how is it different from aortic transection?
Aortic dissection is caused by a tear of the intima, creating a false channel or lumen within the wall of the aorta. Flowing blood dissects along the course of the aorta, extending the false lumen longitudinally and into branch vessels. The classic clinical presentation is “ripping” back or chest pain.
Aortic transection (perhaps better referred to as traumatic aortic injury) occurs in trauma patients. The entire aortic wall is injured or transected, leading to hemorrhage or pseudoaneurysm formation. Transection is usually a focal injury, usually in the chest. Dissections extend for some distance and require more extensive imaging of the entire aorta and its branch vessels.