Patients with acute aortic dissection usually present clinically with an insignificant medical history, leading to a high probability of misdiagnosis. There are many ways to identify and confirm when an aortic dissection has occurred – they may be evident through aortic angiography, chest x-rays, MRIs, echocardiogram, CT scans, or ultrasonography. If not identified and treated quickly, aortic dissections are often fatal. Doctors have the tools to identify and address this condition and should be expected to properly diagnose when a dissection has occurred.
Even so, a study titled “Factors leading to failure to diagnose acute aortic dissection in the emergency room” found that a misdiagnosis of an aortic dissection occurred in 16% observed cases. Statistically, that is 1 in 6 cases. There is a general belief that the actual misdiagnosis rate is higher. Tragically, the failure to diagnose an acute aortic dissection can result in death.