Acute aortic dissection in the ED: risk factors and predictors for missed diagnosis

Published:February 10, 2012DOI:



      This study aims to explore the risk factors and predictors involved in the missed diagnosis of acute aortic dissection (AAD) among patients in the emergency medicine department (EMD).


      This is a single-center retrospective chart review conducted over a 10-year period (January 1998 to December 2008). Records with a diagnosis of “dissection of aorta” (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code 441.0) from the hospital discharge database and hospital death register were selected. Acute aortic dissection was defined as missed if diagnostic imaging to diagnose AAD or cardiothoracic surgeon consult was not elicited while in the EMD. We compared the history, clinical findings, and investigations between patients who had the diagnosis of AAD missed in the EMD and those who did not.


      A total of 68 patients were included in the analysis during the study period, of which 38.2% had a missed diagnosis. There was 63.2% of type A AAD by Stanford classification. Neither age, sex, nor a history of hypertension were significant risk factors for missed diagnosis of AAD. The likelihood of missed diagnosis was significantly higher in the absence of a pulse deficit (odds ratio, 35.76; 95% confidence interval, 3.70-345.34) and absence of widened mediastinum on chest radiography (odds ratio, 33.16; 95% confidence interval, 5.74-191.49).


      Well-known risk factors for AAD such as age, male sex, and hypertension were not risk factors for missed diagnosis for AAD presenting in the EMD. The absence of pulse deficit or widened mediastinum does not exclude the diagnosis of AAD.
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