Diagnosis and treatment of thoracic aortic intramural hematoma

S. C. Muluk, J. A. Kaufman, D. F. Torchiana, J. P. Gertler, R. P. Cambria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Purpose: This report reviews our recent experience with nine patients who had intramural hematoma of the thoracic aorta. Methods: This was a retrospective study of all patients who had intramural hematoma at our institution from 1989 to 1994. Patients who had identifiable intimal flap, tear, or penetrating aortic ulcer were excluded from the study. Results: Among these nine elderly patients (mean age, 76 years), the most common presentation was chest or back pain. Intramural hematoma was diagnosed by a variety of high-resolution imaging techniques. The descending thoracic aorta alone was involved in seven patients, whereas the ascending aorta was affected in the other two patients. One patient had evidence of an aneurysm (5.0 cm diameter) in the region of the hematoma. All patients were initially managed nonsurgically with blood pressure control. Both patients who had ascending aortic involvement had progression of aortic hematoma, which resulted in death in one case and in successful surgery in the other. Six of the seven patients who had descending aortic involvement alone were successfully managed without aortic surgery. The patient who had intramural hematoma and associated aortic aneurysm, however, had severe, recurrent pain and underwent successful aortic replacement. Another patient had recurrent pain associated with hypertension, but was successfully managed nonsurgically with antihypertensive therapy. All eight survivors are doing well at a median follow tip of 19 months. Conclusions: Intramural hematoma appears to be a distiller entity, although overlap with aortic dissection or penetrating aortic ulcer exists. Aggressive control of blood pressure with intensive care unit monitoring has been our initial management. Patients who have involvement of the descending thoracic aorta alone can frequently be managed without surgery in the absence of coexisting aneurysmal dilatation or disease progression. Our experience suggests that a more aggressive approach with early surgery is warranted in patients who have ascending aortic involvement or those who have coexisting aneurysm and intramural hematoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1029
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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