Background: In 2010, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released guidelines for the diagnosis and management of patients with thoracic aortic disease, which identified high-risk clinical features to assist in the early detection of acute aortic dissection. The sensitivity of these risk markers has not been validated.
Methods and results: We examined patients enrolled in the International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection from 1996 to 2009. The number of patients with confirmed acute aortic dissection who presented with 1 or more of 12 proposed clinical risk markers was determined. An aortic dissection detection (ADD) risk score of 0 to 3 was calculated on the basis of the number of risk categories (high-risk predisposing conditions, high-risk pain features, high-risk examination features) in which patients met criteria. The ADD risk score was tested for sensitivity. Of 2538 patients with acute aortic dissection, 2430 (95.7%) were identified by 1 or more of 12 proposed clinical risk markers. With the use of the ADD risk score, 108 patients (4.3%) were identified as low risk (ADD score 0), 927 patients (36.5%) were intermediate risk (ADD score 1), and 1503 patients (59.2%) were high risk (ADD score 2 or 3). Among 108 patients with no clinical risk markers present (ADD score 0), 72 had chest x-rays recorded, of which 35 (48.6%) demonstrated a widened mediastinum.
Conclusions: The clinical risk markers proposed in the 2010 thoracic aortic disease guidelines and their application as part of the ADD risk score comprise a highly sensitive clinical tool for the detection of acute aortic dissection.