Limited intimal tears (LITs) of the aorta (Class 3 dissection variant) are the least common form of aortic pathology in patients presenting with acute aortic syndrome (AAS). LITs are difficult to detect on imaging and may be underappreciated.This study sought to describe the frequency, pathology, treatment, and outcome of LITs compared with other AAS, and to demonstrate that LITs can be detected pre-operatively by contemporary imaging.The authors retrospectively reviewed 497 patients admitted for 513 AAS events at a single academic aortic center between 2003 and 2012. AAS were classified into classic dissection (AD), intramural hematoma, LIT, penetrating atherosclerotic ulcer, and rupturing thoracic aortic aneurysm. The prevalence, pertinent risk factors, and detailed imaging findings with surgical and pathological correlation of LITs are described. Management, early outcomes, and late mortality are reported.Among 497 patients with AAS, the authors identified 24 LITs (4.8% of AAS) in 16 men and 8 women (17 type A, 7 type B). Patients with LITs were older than those with AD, and type A LITs had similarly dilated ascending aortas as type A AD. Three patients presented with rupture. Eleven patients underwent urgent surgical aortic replacement, and 2 patients underwent endovascular repair. Medial degeneration was present in all surgical specimens. In-hospital mortality was 4% (1 of 24), and in total, 5 patients with LIT died subsequently at 1.5 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 0.3 to 2.5 years). Computed tomography imaging detected all but 1 LIT, best visualized on volume-rendered images.LITs are rare acute aortic lesions within the dissection spectrum, with similar presentation, complications, and outcomes compared with AD and intramural hematoma. Awareness of this lesion allows pre-operative diagnosis using high-quality computed tomography angiography.
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