Aneurysm refers to an abnormal dilation or bulge in the wall of the aorta; at a certain size (or with certain rate of growth), there is increased risk of rupture which is often fatal.
Dissection refers to an abnormal tear in the wall of the aorta resulting in separate of the layers of the aortic wall; a sudden tear is an emergency due to possible compromise of organ blood flow, requiring immediate attention.
Symptoms depend on the location and size of the aneurysm, and before reaching a certain size, many grow silently; symptoms may include chest, back, and/or abdominal pain/discomfort.
Symptoms of aortic dissection similarly depend on the location of the tear and whether or not organ/limb blood flow is compromised, but may include:
Testing for diseases of the aorta includes:
Management of aortic aneurysm depends on the location but often involves placement of endovascular stent grafts (covered stents that exclude the diseased areas of the aorta); however, in some cases, surgery may be required.
Management of aortic dissection depends on the location.