Aortic Intramural Hematoma and Its Complications
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.1
Sherlock Holmes to Dr Watson
—Arthur Conan Doyle,
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: A Case of Identity.
Case Presentation: A 70-year-old woman with hypertension presents for evaluation of a single episode of nonexertional chest pain of moderate intensity, atypical for myocardial infarction. Clinical signs of acute aortic dissection and cardiac tamponade are absent. A 12-lead ECG and blood test for troponin are negative for acute myocardial infarction. M-mode transthoracic echocardiogram of the aortic root shows dense echoes anteriorly and posteriorly at the level of the aortic valve and a large pericardial effusion (Figure 1A). After discussing a diagnosis of acute aortic syndrome, she asks, “What other tests will I need to confirm the diagnosis? Will I undergo surgery?”
Intramural hematoma (IMH) is a life-threatening aortic disease included within acute aortic syndrome, together with aortic dissection and penetrating aortic ulcer (PAU).2,3 IMH is a contained aortic wall hematoma with bleeding within the media but without initial intimal flap formation (Figure 2).3 Its natural history is variable; it may be reabsorbed …