The functional limits of the aneurysmal aortic root. A unique pressure testing apparatus

Timothy Luke Surman, John Matthew Abrahams, Dermot O'Rourke, Karen Jane Reynolds, James Edwards, Michael George Worthington, John Beltrame

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Background: The aortic root has unique embryological development and is a highly sophisticated and complex structure. In studies that report on the biomechanical characteristics of the thoracic aorta, distinction between the aortic root and ascending aorta regions is nonexistent. Our objective is to determine the maximal pressures at which dissection occurs or tissue failure occurs in the aortic root compared to that of the ascending aorta in the presence of aortic aneurysms. This may help guide preoperative monitoring, diagnosis and the decision for operative intervention for aortic root aneurysms in the normal and susceptible populations. Methods: We developed a simple aortic root and ascending aorta pressure testing unit in series. Ten fresh porcine hearts were obtained from the local abattoir (n = 5 aortic root and n = 5 ascending aorta for comparison). Using a saline filled needle and syringe, artificial fluid-filled aneurysms were created between the intima and medial layers of the aortic root. The aorta lumen was then progressively filled with saline solution. Pressure measurement was taken at time of loss of tissue integrity, obvious tissue dissection or aneurysm rupture, and the tissue structure was then visually examined. Results: In the aortic root, mean maximal pressure (mmHg) at tissue failure was 208 mmHg. Macroscopic examination revealed luminal tears around the coronary ostia in 2/5 specimens, and in all specimens, there was propagation of the dissection in the aortic root in a circumferential direction. In all ascending aorta specimens, the maximal aortic pressures exceeded 300 mmHg without tissue failure or dissection, and eventual apparatus failure. Conclusion: Our results indicate that the aneurysmal aortic root tissues are at greater risk of rupture and dissection propagation at lower aortic pressure. With further analysis, this could guide clinical and surgical management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number259
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2020


  • Aortic root
  • Ascending aorta aneurysms
  • Ascending aortic dissection
  • Inflation testing
  • Thoracic aorta


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