Is medical therapy still the optimal treatment strategy for patients with acute type B aortic dissections?

Juan P. Umaña, David T. Lai, R. Scott Mitchell, Kathleen A. Moore, Filiberto Rodriguez, Robert C. Robbins, Phillip E. Oyer, Michael D. Dake, Norman E. Shumway, Bruce A. Reitz, D. Craig Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


Objective: The optimal treatment of patients with acute type B dissections continues to be debated. Methods: A 36-year clinical experience of medical and surgical treatments in 189 patients was retrospectively analyzed (multivariable Cox proportional hazards model) with respect to three outcome end points: all deaths, freedom from reoperation, and freedom from late aortic complications or death. Propensity score analysis identified 2 quintiles (quintiles I and II, consisting of 142 comparable patients) for further comparison of the effects of surgical versus medical treatment. Results: Shock (hazard ratio 14.5, 95% confidence interval 4.7-44.5, P < .001) and visceral ischemia (hazard ratio 10.9, 95% confidence interval 3.9-30.3, P < .001) largely predominated as determinants of death, along with 6 other risk factors (arch involvement, rupture, stroke, previous sternotomy, and coronary or lung disease), which roughly doubled the hazard of death. Female sex was a significant but weaker predictor of death. Renal dysfunction, year of presentation, age, and mode of therapy (medical vs surgical) had no important bearing on overall survival. The actuarial survival estimates for all patients were 71%, 60%, 35%, and 17% at 1, 5, 10, and 15 years, respectively, and were similar for the medical and surgical patients. Reoperation and late aortic complications were predicted by the presence of Marfan syndrome. For the propensity-matched patients in quintiles I and II, survival, freedom from reoperation, and freedom from aortic complications were almost identical in the medically treated and surgical subsets. Conclusions: The prognosis for patients with acute type B aortic dissection is bleak and determined primarily by dissection-related and patient-specific risk factors, which do not appear to be readily modifiable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-910
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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