Aortic dissection is the most common acute emergency condition of the aorta and often has a fatal outcome. Outcome is determined by the type and extent of dissection and the presence of associated complications (eg, cerebral sequelae, aortic branch involvement, pericardial involvement, and visceral involvement), with early diagnosis and treatment being essential for improved prognosis. Aortic dissections are classified on the basis of the site of the intimal tear according to the Stanford classification system. Type A aortic dissection involves the ascending thoracic aorta and may extend into the descending aorta, whereas in a type B dissection the intimal tear is located distal to the left subclavian artery. Type A dissection typically requires urgent surgical intervention, whereas type B dissection can often be treated medically. Modern multidetector computed tomography (CT) is a fast, widely available imaging modality with high sensitivity and specificity. Multidetector CT allows the early recognition and characterization of aortic dissection as well as determination of the presence of any associated complications, findings that are essential for optimizing treatment and improving clinical outcomes.