Minimal Aortic Injury: Mechanisms, Imaging Manifestations, Natural History, and Management
Radiographics . Nov-Dec 2020;40(7):1834-1847. doi: 10.1148/rg.2020200066. Epub 2020 Oct 2.
Harit Kapoor, James T Lee, Nathan T Orr, Michael J Nisiewicz, Barbara K Pawley, Marianna Zagurovskaya
Over the last 2 decades, increased depiction of minimal aortic injury (MAI) in the evaluation of patients who have sustained trauma has mirrored the increased utilization and improved resolution of multidetector CT. MAI represents a mild form of blunt traumatic aortic injury (BTAI) that usually resolves or stabilizes with pharmacologic management. The traditional imaging manifestation of MAI is a subcentimeter round, triangular, or linear aortic filling defect attached to an aortic wall, representing a small intimal flap or thrombus consistent with grade I injury according to the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS). Small intramural hematoma (SVS grade II injury) without external aortic contour deformity is included in the MAI spectrum in several BTAI classifications on the basis of its favorable outcome. Although higher SVS grades of injury generally call for endovascular repair, there is growing literature supporting conservative management for small pseudoaneurysms (SVS grade III) and large intimal flaps (>1 cm, unclassified by the SVS), hinting toward possible future inclusion of these entities in the MAI spectrum. Injury progression of MAI is rare, with endovascular aortic repair reserved for these patients as well as patients for whom medical treatment cannot be implemented. No consensus on the predetermined frequency and duration of multidetector CT follow-up exists, but it is common practice to perform a repeat CT examination shortly after the initial diagnosis. The authors review the evolving definition, pathophysiology, and natural history of MAI, present the primary and secondary imaging findings and diagnostic pitfalls, and discuss the current management options for MAI.
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