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Type A aortic dissection presenting as superior vena cava syndrome

  • Faisal S. Raja (a1), Ali Islam (a2), Mustafa Khan (a3) and Iram Abbasi (a4)

Abstract

A 51-year-old man presented with a 5-day history of progressive facial swelling, sensation of head fullness, increasing shortness of breath and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. He denied chest pain, syncope or presyncope. Pastmedical history included mechanical aortic valve replacement 7 years prior and atrial fibrillation treated with warfarin. A clinical diagnosis of acute superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome was made. Portable chest radiograph showed a widened superior mediastinum. Computed tomography scan of the thorax demonstrated a large type A aortic dissection almost completely effacing the SVC. Acute type A aortic dissection (AD) is an emergency requiring prompt diagnosis and treatment. Patients typically present with acute onset of chest and/or back pain, classically described as “ripping” or “tearing.” SVC syndrome is rarely, if ever, mentioned as a presentation, as it is usually due to more chronic conditions. This case illustrates a rare incidence of type A AD actually presenting as SVC syndrome.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Department of Diagnostic Radiology, St. Joseph's Hospital, 268 Grosvenor Street, PO Box 5777, London, ON N6A 5A5; fraja3@uwo.ca

References

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