[Diagnostic goals in aortic dissection. Value of transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography]

R Erbel, S Mohr-Kahaly, H Oelert, S Iversen, H Jakob, M Thelen, M Just, J Meyer
Herz 1992, 17 (6): 321-37
The combination of different ultrasound techniques like transthoracic, suprasternal, subcostal and transesophageal echocardiography have a high sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of aortic dissection. The limitation of this combined ultrasound technique is related to the visualization of the ascending part of the aortic arch which, cause of the interposition of the trachea, can not be visualized completely. The beginning or the end of a dissection in this part of the aorta may be misinterpreted. False negative results are rare. False positive results due to artefacts resulting from reverberations in an ectatic ascending aorta have to be taken into account. The most important diagnostic aims in acute or chronic aortic dissection can be described: 1. confirmation of the diagnosis by visualization of the intima membrane, 2. the differentiation of the true and false lumen depending on visualization of spontaneous echocardiographic contrast thrombus formation, slow or reduced reversed flow, systolic diameter reduction and signs of entry jet into the false lumen, 3. detection of intimal tear, demonstrating communication by two-dimensional or color Doppler echocardiography, 4. determination of the extent of the dissection with classification according to DeBakey type I, II and III or Stanford A and B with differentiation to communicating or non-communicating dissection, antegrade or retrograde dissection limited to the descending aorta or expanding to the ascending aorta, 5. detection of wall motion abnormalities as a sign of preexisting coronary artery disease or myocardial ischemia due to ostium occlusion by an intimal flap, coronary artery rupture or collapse of the true lumen during diastole, 6. detection and grading of aortic insufficiency, 7. detection of side branch involvement by suprasternal, subcostal and abdominal sonography, which will gain the information which side can be chosen for cannulation or catheterization at the femoral artery, 8. detection of pericardial pleural effusion and mediastinal hematoma as a sign of emergency as rupture can occur within minutes. Without surgical intervention have be performed. Based on these informations, surgery can be performed in all acute situations in type A dissection without further investigations. This decision is particularly important in patients with signs of emergency like pericardial or pleural effusion or mediastinal hematoma.

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