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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2006 May;17(5):773-81.

Aortic branch artery pseudoaneurysms accompanying aortic dissection. Part II. Distinction from penetrating atherosclerotic ulcers.

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Department of Radiology, Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, University of Michigan Medical Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0326, USA.



Small collections of contrast material are frequently seen within the otherwise thrombosed false lumen of an aortic dissection (AD). These collections can be divided into those without apparent communication with the aortic lumen (ie, pseudoaneurysms) and those with obvious communications (ie, ulcers). The present study was performed to test the hypotheses that pseudoaneurysms and ulcers differ in their distribution around the aorta and that the distribution of pseudoaneurysms is similar to that of small aortic branch arteries.


Computed tomography (CT) scans in 187 patients with AD and thrombosed false lumens showed 335 intramural contrast medium collections, including 128 pseudoaneurysms and 207 ulcers. CT scans in 40 control individuals without AD were reviewed to localize small aortic branch arteries. The angular distributions around the circumference of the aorta of pseudoaneurysms and ulcers and the branch artery origins were tabulated and compared. The frequency of detection of small branch arteries arising from the contrast material collections was noted.


The angular distribution of pseudoaneurysms did not differ significantly from that of branch artery origins but did differ from that of ulcers. Pseudoaneurysms were found along the posterior, medial, and anterior walls of the aorta in the chest, sparing the lateral wall abutting the pleura. Ulcers tended to spare the arc containing branch artery origins. The composite distribution of ulcers and pseudoaneurysms appears uniform around the circumference of the aorta except at the T10-T12 levels.


Branch artery pseudoaneurysms spare the pleural surface of the aorta and have nearly the same distribution around the circumference of the aorta as the origins of small aortic branch arteries. In contrast, ulcers tend to spare branch artery origins. The characteristic appearance and distribution of pseudoaneurysms on CT can help differentiate them from ulcers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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