16 March 1998
Aortic intramural hematoma (IMH) is a rarely diagnosed pathological condition that is not well characterized to date. We diagnosed IMH in 4 of 31 patients with suspected aortic dissection admitted to our coronary care unit from 1992 to 1995. In all 4 cases, IMH was located in the ascending aorta. At the time of hospitalization, all patients showed tachycardia, hypotension and pericardial effusion. Diagnosis of IMH was made by transesophageal echocardiography and computed tomography. We performed aortography in 2 patients, but it was non-diagnostic in both of them. One patient died before surgery. Autopsy confirmed the diagnosis of IMH and showed severe pericardial effusion. In another patient, the diagnosis was confirmed during successful surgery, while the remaining 2 patients recovered after medical therapy. The 3 surviving patients are still under follow-up control 12, 16 and 20 months after the initial acute event. We briefly discuss the epidemiological, clinical, diagnostic, therapeutic and prognostic aspects of IMH.