Background: Multiple studies have quantified the relationship between aortic size and risk of dissection. However, these studies estimated the risk of dissection without accounting for any increase in aortic size from the dissection process itself.
Objectives: This study aims to compare aortic size before and after dissection and to evaluate the change in size consequent to the dissection itself.
Methods: Fifty-five consecutive patients (29 type A; 26 type B) with aortic dissection and incidental imaging studies prior to dissection were identified and compared to a control group of aneurysm patients (n = 205). The average time between measurement at and prior to dissection was 1.7 ± 1.9 years (1.9 ± 2.0 years mean inter-image time in the control group). A multivariate regression model controlling for growth rate, age, and gender was created to estimate the effect of dissection itself on aortic size.
Results: The mean aortic sizes at and prior to dissection were 54.2 ± 7.0 and 45.1 ± 5.7 mm for the ascending aorta, and 47.1 ± 13.8 and 39.5 ± 13.1 mm for the descending aorta, respectively. The multivariable analysis revealed a significant impact of the dissection itself (p < 0.001) and estimated an increase in size of 7.65 mm (ascending aorta) and 6.38 mm (descending aorta). Thus, a proportional estimate of 82.8% (ascending aorta) and 80.8% (descending aorta) of dissections are made at a size lower than the guideline-recommended threshold (55 mm).
Conclusions: The aortic diameter increases substantially due to aortic dissection itself and, thus, aortas are being dissected at clinically meaningfully smaller sizes than natural history analyses have previously suggested. These findings have important implications regarding the size at which the risk of dissection is increased.