Unexpected death caused by rupture of a dilated aorta in an adult male with aortic coarctation

  • Leth P
  • Knudsen P
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Abstract

Aortic coarctation (AC) is a congenital aortic narrowing. We describe for the first time the findings obtained by unenhanced post mortem computed tomography (PMCT) in a case where the death was caused by cardiac tamponade from a ruptured aneurysmal dilatation of the ascending aorta and the aortic arch without dissection combined with aortic coarctation. The patient, a 46-year-old man, was found dead at home. PMCT showed haemopericardium and dilatation of the ascending aorta and the aortic arch. This appearance led to the mistaken interpretation that the images represented a dissecting aneurysm. The autopsy showed instead a thin-walled and floppy dilatation of the ascending aorta and aortic arch with a coarctation just proximal to the ligamentum arteriosum. A longitudinal tear was found in the posterior aortic wall just above the valves. Blood in the surrounding soft tissue intersected with a large haematoma (1000 ml) in the pericardial sac. Cardiac hypertrophy (556 g) was observed in the patient, though no other cardiovascular abnormalities were found. Histological analysis showed cystic medial necrosis of the ascending aortic wall. A ruptured aneurysmal dilatation of the ascending aorta and the aortic arch without aortic dissection associated with AC is an uncommon cause of haemopericardium that has only been described a few times before. The case is discussed in relation to other reported cases and in the context of the present understanding of this condition.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aortic coarctation
  • Aortic rupture
  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Cystic media necrosis
  • Post mortem computed tomography
  • Sudden unexpected death

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Authors

  • Peter Mygind Leth

  • Peter Thiis Knudsen

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