Traumatic aortic rupture natural history, complications and prognosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

The condition is frequently fatal due to the massive bleeding that results from the rupture. Since the aorta branches directly from the heart to supply blood to the rest of the body, the pressure within it is very great, and blood may be pumped out of a tear in the blood vessel very rapidly. This can quickly result in hemorrhagic shock and death. Death occurs immediately after traumatic rupture of the thoracic aorta 75% to 90% of the time since bleeding is so severe, and 80 to 85% of patients die before arriving at a hospital. Though there is a concern that a small, stable tear in the aorta could enlarge and cause complete rupture of the aorta and heavy bleeding, this may be less common than previously believed as long as the patient's blood pressure does not get too high. Patients who survive to hospital admission generally have a partial tear with pseudoaneurysm formation.

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