Background: Acute type A aortic dissection (AAAD) is a pathological process that implicates the ascending aorta and represents a surgical emergency burdened by high mortality if not promptly treated in the first hours of onset. Despite best efforts, the annual incidence rates of aortic dissection has remained stable over the past decades. We measured aortic dimensions (aortic diameters, area, length and volume) using 3D multiplanar reconstruction imaging with the purpose of refining the risk- morphology for AAAD.
Methods: Computerized tomography angiography studies of three groups were compared retrospectively: patients affected by AAAD (AAAD group; n=71), patients affected by aortic aneurysm and subsequently subjected to ascending aorta replacement (Aneurysm, n=77) and a healthy aorta's group (Control, n=75).
Results: Mean diameters of AAAD (4.9 cm) and Aneurysm (5.1 cm) aortas were significantly larger than those of the control group (3.4 cm). In AAAD patients, an ascending aorta diameter greater than 5.5 cm was observed in 18% of patients. Multiple comparisons showed statistically significant differences among mean of the ratio of aortic root area to height between the three groups (P<0.001). In frontal and sagittal planes, the length of the ascending aorta was significantly greater in patients affected by aortic pathology (AAAD and aneurysm) than in the control group (P<0.001). Significant differences were confirmed when indexing the aortic length to patient's height and BSA, and the aortic volume to patient's BSA.
Conclusions: Maximum transverse diameter, considered separately, is not the best predictor of aortic dissection. In our opinion, the introduction into clinical practice of measurements of the area, length, and volume of the aorta, as absolute or indexed values, could improve the selection of patients who would benefit from preventive surgical aortic replacement.