Traumatic Aortic Injury/Transection

What is it?

Aortic Transection

Traumatic aortic injury/transection is a condition where the aorta, the main blood vessel that travels from the heart, ruptures or tears. This type of injury can be immediately fatal.

Causes

Traumatic aortic injury/transection is usually caused high speed impact to the chest or back, such as a motor vehicle accident or serious fall. 

Symptoms

It is common for an aortic transection to occur without symptoms or for the symptoms to go unnoticed if other injuries have been suffered during the accident. Some people may experience the following:

  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or speaking
  • Chest or back pain

Diagnosis

There are two ways aortic transection can be diagnosed:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Chest X-Ray

Treatment

Aortic Transection Repair

The treatment of traumatic aortic injury depends on the severity of the aortic tear. Low-grade tears can be treated with blood pressure lowering medications. These patients will need close follow-up to repeat CT imaging.

Moderate-to-severe tears require immediate surgery. Currently, most of these injuries are treated with thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR), whereby a stent-graft is deployed within the diseased segment of aorta through minimally invasive means.