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Blunt Aortic Injury

An aortic injury is a devastating injury that results in a high rate of mortality. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and is responsible for carrying the blood that leaves the heart to the rest of the body. Injury to the aorta occurs after rapid deceleration due to a tearing force at the junction where the aorta changes from being fixed to the posterior abdominal wall to being freely mobile causing complete disruption of the vessel wall, vessel occlusion, or vessel avulsion. Injury can also occur from stretching and shearing forces resulting in small tears that promote blood clot formation. Common causes of a blunt aortic injury are high speed car crashes, tractor trailer crashes, motorcycle crashes, and pedestrians being struck by an automobile.


In the case of a small injury, such as small tear in the vessel wall, there may not be any associated symptoms initially. However, a blood clot will form and at some point, particularly with subsequent trauma, it can be dislodged and travel to a smaller vessel where it will occlude the blood flow. The occluded blood vessel can cause a stroke if located in the brain or it can cause pain, weakness, and loss of feeling in the extremities.

With a more severe injury, symptoms can include absent or diminished pulses in the upper extremities, shortness of breath, chest pain or pain with swallowing, or pain between the shoulder blades. And with complete avulsion of the aorta, massive internal bleeding will be rapid and fatal. Symptoms of shock may be present with either of these cases – fast heart beat, rapid breathing, pale skin, and lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness.

Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment is surgical repair and/or stent placement to recreate an intact open vessel. A beta-blocker, such as metoprolol, may be given to control blood pressure and heart rate. A blood transfusion may be necessary with blood loss.

Mortality may be as high as 55%. Those with a successful surgery have a good prognosis. However, with any surgical manipulation or injury to a vessel it always increases the chances of blood clot formation later in life.

Contact Our Attentive Accident Lawyers

Our Missouri law firm will fight to help you obtain compensation for the full extent of your losses. Recovering from an aortic injury can be a difficult enough without dealing with the complicated legal process. To schedule a free case evaluation, please call our accident attorneys at (314) 322-8515 today.

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