The objective of this study was to assess the reliability of ancillary imaging findings in distinguishing acute from chronic aortic dissection (AD) and intramural hematoma (IMH) using computed tomography angiography (CTA).
Two radiologists specializing in cardiothoracic and vascular imaging reviewed paired CTAs of patients with AD or IMH who underwent CTA in the acute (within 24 h of presentation) and chronic settings. The radiologists were blinded to the temporal order of the CTAs. Minimum and maximum flap thicknesses and presence or absence of pleural effusion, pericardial effusion, mediastinal hematoma or fat standing, and mediastinal lymphadenopathy were recorded.
Patients included 25 male individuals and 13 female individuals with a mean age of 59 years (range: 34 to 87 y). The group included 29 AD and 9 IMH cases. The median interval between the paired CTs was 542 days (range: 100 to 2533 d). Respectively, the mean minimum flap thicknesses in the acute and chronic AD were 1.3 and 1.4 mm (P=0.3), and the mean maximum flap thicknesses were 2.7 and 2.9 mm (P=0.29). The incidences of ancillary findings in acute and chronic AD and IMH were as follows: pleural effusion (55% vs. 37%, P=0.143), pericardial effusion (8% vs. 11%, P=1.0), lymphadenopathy (47% vs. 47%, P=1.0), and periaortic fat stranding (87% vs. 76%, P=0.344).
Ancillary CT imaging findings traditionally ascribed to acute AD and IMH are also often found in the chronic setting and are not reliable indicators of acuity. Flap thickness in AD may not be a reliable imaging indicator of acuity of AD.
*Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
†Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences
§Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
‡Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Correspondence to: Dexter Mendoza, MD, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).