beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

To find a doctor, call 800-667-5356 or click below:

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

left banner
right banner
Smaller Larger

Aortic Dissection

Tear in Wall of Aorta

Heart and Main VesselsAortic dissection, one form of aortic disease, is a tear in the wall of your aorta.

  • If the tear or dissection is located in part of the aorta that is in your chest, it is usually associated with chest pain.
  • If the tear is in the abdominal portion of the aorta, it is associated with abdominal pain.

Causes Life Threatening Conditions

A tear in the inner layer of the wall can allow blood under pressure to enter and work its way between the aortic wall's three layers. This can cause the layers to separate, preventing blood from getting through the aorta or its branches leading to:

  • Stroke, sudden heart failure or blocked blood flow to the body's vital organs.
  • A mass of misdirected blood to compromise nearby structures such as the airways, lungs, esophagus or heart.
  • Aortic rupture resulting in catastrophic bleeding. If this happens, it is usually fatal. In most cases, the blood remains contained between the dissected aortic wall layers.

Types of Aortic Dissection

There are two types of aortic dissection.

Type A: Tear in Ascending Portion of Aorta

Most Common and Dangerous

The most common and dangerous type of aortic dissection.

It involves a tear in the ascending or beginning portion of the aorta at the point where it exits the heart or a tear extending from the ascending portion down to the descending portion of the aorta, which may extend into the abdomen.

Type B: Tear in Descending Portion of Aorta

A tear in the descending or distal part of the aorta, which also may extend into the abdomen.

Contact Information

Cardiac Surgery
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Lowry Medical Office Building, 2A
110 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215