Chronic Type B Aortic Dissection Associated with Disseminated Intravascular Coagulopathy:The Risk of a Patent False Lumen in the Chronic Phase

(Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Kitakyushu Municipal Medical Center, Kitakyushu, Japan)

Masato Sakamoto Manabu Hisahara
Patients with chronic type B aortic dissection usually require surgical repair due to aortic dissection-related complications, whereas those with uncomplicated type B acute aortic dissection can usually be managed with medical therapy. Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy(DIC), as well as aortic enlargement, visceral or limb ischemia and recurrent dissection, has been reported as one of the rare complications of type B aortic dissection which require surgical treatment in the chronic phase. DIC is a severe complication which can result in catastrophic events such as gastrointestinal and cerebral bleeding. The management of DIC as a complication of chronic aortic dissection is still controversial, as medical treatment involving anticoagulants and the supplementation of coagulation factors via a transfusion of fresh frozen plasma is not completely reliable. Surgical treatment to close a false lumen can be corrective, but carries the risk of excessive bleeding due to DIC. We report a patient with chronic type B dissection with a patent false lumen complicated by overt DIC. This patient had frequent occurrences of purpura on the upper and lower extremities. Contrast computed tomography in the late phase showed stagnation of contrast medium in the thoracic false lumen, which strongly idicated this false lumen to be the origin of the DIC. We gave the patient a continuous drip infusion of heparin(12,000U/day)for 1 week before the operation, after which we performed total aortic replacement in order to thrombose the false lumen. His coagulation profile, including platelet count, prothrombin time, international normalized ratio and clinical symptoms improved immediately after the operation. Computed tomography(CT)performed 3 months after the operation showed complete thrombosis and obstruction of the false lumen in the thoracic aorta. The patient is currently well and has resumed routine activities. The continuous infusion of heparin for 1 week was highly effective to improve the coagulopathy in the present case. This case underscores the importance of conducting follow-up to evaluate coagulation-fibrinolysis system function and to measure the aortic diameter by CT in patients with chronic type B aortic dissection with a patent false lumen. Comparison of the early and late phases of contrast-enhanced CT was extremely useful to determine the cause of coagulopathy in this case. Furthermore, the coagulopathy was successfully treated by total aortic arch replacement to close the entry of the false lumen.
  Jpn. J. Cardiovasc. Surg. 40:210-214(2011)

Keywords:chronic aortic dissection, DIC, coagulation-fibrinolysis system, coagulopathy, false lumen, anticoagulation therapy