Evolution of post-traumatic aortic aneurysm in the subacute phase: Magnetic resonance imaging follow-up as a support of the surgical timing

Rossella Fattori, Francesca Celletti, Benedetta Descovich, Gabriella Napoli, Paola Bertaccini, Roberto Galli, Giampaolo Gavelli, Angelo Pierangeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: A recent surgical series documented that in traumatic aortic rupture (TAR) a surgical repair postponed to the treatment of associated lesions reduced operative and overall mortality. Nevertheless some isolated cases may develop to free rupture. Until now, no imaging follow-up studies of post-traumatic aortic lesions have been reported in the early stage. The aim of this study is to analyze the behaviour of traumatic aortic ruptures in the subacute phase, in order to detect the morphological characteristics of unstable post-traumatic aneurysms. Methods: Twenty-five consecutive patients affected by traumatic aortic rupture (one intimal hemorrhage, 19 partial lesions and five circumferential lesions) were admitted to the department of cardiac surgery. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was the imaging method used to confirm the diagnosis. No one was operated on during the acute phase. All patients were treated with β-blockers and vasodilators as well as limited fluid administration. Delayed surgery was carried out in i 8 patients at 243 days (±127), after the resolution of associated lesions. A scheduled MRI follow-up was performed at 7, 15 and 30 days and immediately before the operation. The parameters examined were increase of post-traumatic aneurysm, increase of periaortic hematoma and modification of the thoracic associated lesions. Results: At 30 days a 3.0 ± 3.7 mm median increase of the aneurysm was observed, while in the subsequent period the lesions became substantially stable, resulting in a 4.4 ± 3.6 mm increment at the end of the follow-up. The circumferential lesions presented a higher increment with respect to the partial lesions. In three cases an augmentation of 6, 7 and 12 mm was detected and surgical repair was anticipated. In 13 cases a periadventitial hematoma surrounding the aortic aneurysm decreased through the time. One case of intimal hemorrhage healed spontaneously, with no aneurysm formation. Thoracic associated lesions (pleural and pericardial effusions, rib fractures, lung focal contusions and two cases of ARDS) resolved at 30-60 days. Conclusions: Despite common knowledge, considering TAR highly evolutive in the acute and subacute phase, this study demonstrated that this pathological entity is relatively stable if a proper pharmacological treatment is administrated. MRI follow-up is recommended in order to detect isolated cases of unstable aneurysm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-587
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


  • Aorta
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery


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