When the aorta is punctured, torn or bruised it is called traumatic aortic injury. This type of injury most often occurs as a result of a gunshot or knife wound or as a result of motor vehicle accident. It is a life-threatening medical condition and requires emergency medical care.
UCLA is home to the region’s leading experts for diagnosis and treatment of aortic injury. Our level 1 Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center is well equipped to handle this type of critical injury due to our specially trained emergency staff and advanced imaging technologies. Our cardiac and vascular surgeons provide the highest level of surgical repair for aortic injury, including the latest minimally invasive approaches.
A traumatic aortic injury is caused when the aorta is damaged or ruptured due to penetrating or blunt force to the artery. These types of injuries can range from minor bruises or tears to critical loss of blood due to aortic rupture.
The most common symptom in patients with aortic injury is low blood pressure from loss of blood due to an aortic tear or rupture. Other symptoms can include:
Diagnostic imaging is used to determine the extent of traumatic aortic injuries. Types of imaging include:
Learn more about types of imaging tests.
Our surgeons are on call around the clock to swiftly treat patients with critical injuries. Even very minor aortic injuries can now be detected due to advancements in imaging technology. Minor injuries may be able to be managed without intervention but involve close medical monitoring by a doctor to assure that the injury does not worsen.
Most traumatic aortic injuries will require emergency repair. Suturing the injury or patching the injury with prosthetic material can sometimes repair small aortic tears or cuts. Open surgery to replace a portion of the aorta with a synthetic graft may be necessary to treat larger injuries. Most traumatic aortic injuries can now be treated with less invasive endovascular techniques.
UCLA surgeons were among the first in the Los Angeles area to use endovascular repair for traumatic aortic injury, which is an option even to patients who are unstable and are not candidates for surgical repair.
You can request an appointment online or call the UCLA Aortic Center at 310-267-8234 (310-AORTAFIX).