Imaging for acute aortic syndromes

Heart. 2020 Feb;106(3):182-189. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2019-314897. Epub 2019 Dec 10.


Acute aortic syndromes (AAS) represent a spectrum of disorders with a common theme of disruption in aortic integrity. AAS are associated with high morbidity and mortality and warrant emergent medical or surgical intervention as delayed treatment is associated with worse outcomes. There are multiple advanced imaging modalities for the diagnosis and complimentary assessment of AAS, each with advantages and limitations. CT angiography remains the imaging modality of choice for diagnosis in the overwhelming majority of patients as it is rapidly acquired and widely available; however, transoesophageal echocardiogram also offers excellent diagnostic accuracy in addition to complimentary data for surgical repair in those with type A dissection. Transthoracic echocardiography and magnetic resonance angiography can also be valuable in select patients. Imaging is increasingly important for risk stratification in the subacute and chronic phases of AAS. Additionally, imaging is vital for planning of interventions in both acute and delayed intervention. Endovascular treatment options are used with increasing frequency-multimodality imaging during the procedure allows for optimisation of these increasingly complex procedures.

Keywords: aortic dissection or intramural haematoma; echocardiography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aortic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aortic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Aortic Diseases / therapy
  • Aortography*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Syndrome