Concerns and Symptoms
- Upper back pain
- Coughing and wheezing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling in the neck or arms
- Severe, stabbing pain in the center of the chest, abdomen, or back
- Decreased ability to move an arm, leg, or other part of the body
- Rapid pulse
- Shortness of breath
For patients with Marfan Syndrome, it is extremely important to monitor the aorta for signs of progressive enlargement and/or an aneurysm. Using ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), surgeons can determine the size of a developing aortic aneurysm.
If the aortic diameter expands rapidly or reaches a critical size (usually about 4.5 to 5 cm), planned surgical repair is recommended. If surgery is performed early, before a rupture or dissection, hospital survival rates are much higher. In addition, performing surgery early increases long-term life expectancy, because there are fewer residual complications associated with aortic dissection (false lumen).
However, if an aneurysm ruptures or a dissection tears, it can cause life-threatening internal bleeding. Even with emergency surgery, the risk of mortality is up to 10 times higher.