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Circulation. 2005 Mar 1;111(8):1063-70. Epub 2005 Feb 14.

Acute intramural hematoma of the aorta: a mystery in evolution.

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Hospital General Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.



The definition, prevalence, outcomes, and appropriate treatment strategies for acute intramural hematoma (IMH) continue to be debated.


We studied 1010 patients with acute aortic syndromes who were enrolled in the International Registry of Aortic Dissection (IRAD) to delineate the prevalence, presentation, management, and outcomes of acute IMH by comparing these patients with those with classic aortic dissection (AD). Fifty-eight (5.7%) patients had IMH, and this cohort tended to be older (68.7 versus 61.7 years; P<0.001) and more likely to have distal aortic involvement (60.3% versus 35.3%; P<0.001) compared with 952 patients with AD. Patients with IMH described more severe initial pain than did those with AD but were less likely to have ischemic leg pain, pulse deficits, or aortic valve insufficiency; moreover, they required a longer time to diagnosis and more diagnostic tests. Overall mortality of IMH was similar to that of classic AD (20.7% versus 23.9%; P=0.57), as was mortality in patients with IMH of the descending aorta (8.3% versus 13.1%; P=0.60) and the ascending aorta (39.1% versus 29.9%; P=0.34) compared with AD. IMH limited to the aortic arch was seen in 7 patients, with no deaths, despite medical therapy in only 6 of the 7 individuals. Among the 51 patients whose initial diagnostic study showed IMH only, 8 (16%) progressed to AD on a serial imaging study.


The IRAD data demonstrate a 5.7% prevalence of IMH in patients with acute aortic syndromes. Like classic AD, IMH is a highly lethal condition when it involves the ascending aorta and surgical therapy should be considered, but this condition is less critical when limited to the arch or descending aorta. Fully 16% of patients have evidence of evolution to dissection on serial imaging.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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