Neurological symptoms in aortic dissection: A challenge for neurologists

  • Gaul C
  • Dietrich W
  • Erbguth F
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Typically, aortic dissection has to be considered in patients with acute thoracic or abdominal pain and accompanying cardiovascular symptoms. Due to these clinical symptoms, neurologists have not been involved in the routine emergency management of aortic dissection. However, transient or permanent neurological symptoms at onset of aortic dissection are not only frequent (17-40% of the patients), but often dramatic and may mask the underlying condition. Especially in pain-free dissection (which occurs in 5-15%) with predominant neurological symptoms diagnosis of aortic dissection can be difficult and delayed. Affecting the outflow of supra-aortal, spinal as well as extremity arteries leads to a variety of neurological symptoms including disturbances of central or peripheral nervous system. Thrombolysis as an emergency stroke therapy without considering aortic dissection may be life-threatening for these patients. Routine chest X-ray and being alert to physical examination findings such as hypotension, asymmetrical pulses or cardiac murmur may reduce risk of delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Neurological symptoms at onset or in the postoperative course of aortic dissection are not necessarily associated with increased mortality.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aortic dissection
  • Mortality
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Thrombolysis

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