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Aortic Dissections


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An aortic dissection occurs when the wall of the aorta (the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body) tears. This causes life-threatening internal bleeding that requires emergency care.

Risk Factors

You may be at a higher risk for an aortic dissection if you are a man over age 65 who has a family history of the condition or who has smoked for many years.


  • Aortic dissections can happen suddenly. You may experience symptoms such as:
  • Severe chest or back pain that feels like tearing
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble speaking, seeing, or moving one side of your body
  • Trouble walking due to leg pain or paralysis

At the University of Miami Health System, our vascular surgery teams move fast to stop bleeding and repair aortic dissections.


Aortic dissections require emergency surgery to remove the damaged part of the aorta and replace it with a graft. 

Open Aortic Dissection Repair
In a small percentage of cases, the surgeon might need to perform a procedure where the abdomen is opened and the aorta is repaired through a large incision. In this cases, the skills and experience of the surgeons are of the utmost importance.

Endovascular Aortic Dissection Repair
In this minimally invasive procedure, your vascular surgeon makes a small incision in your groin. They then insert a thin tube (catheter) through the groin and up into the aorta. They can pass a specialized graft into the aorta to repair the tear and stop bleeding. Though this procedure has a faster recovery time than surgery, it may not be the right choice for every patient.


An angiogram is a scan using contrast injected into an arm vein. This imaging study shows how and where your blood flows.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram
During this procedure, an ultrasound wand is placed down your esophagus, close to your heart and aorta. Sound waves create a picture of your heart and aorta so doctors can identify a dissection.

Computed Tomography
Computed tomography (CT) scans take multiple X-rays of your body in order to form a 3-D picture. Your doctor can identify an aortic dissection on these images.

Why Choose UHealth?

Advanced, hard-to-find procedures. Our doctors are committed to caring for every patient. That’s why they offer the latest treatments, including limb salvage, endovascular grafting and thoracic outlet decompression, to improve your blood flow.

All the care you need, from one physician. Our vascular surgeons perform a wide range of procedures so you can have the same physician for any vascular care you need as your condition changes. Whether you need a stent replaced or a vein grafted, you can always turn to the doctor you trust.

Experienced doctors, reliable results. UHealth vascular surgeons perform hundreds of stent placements, angiograms and aneurysm repairs  every year. You can rely on their experience to help you avoid complications and have a positive outcome.

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