Aortic dissection is a rare and fatal complication of cocaine-induced hypertension. The injury mechanism is through shear stress that penetrates the intimal vessel layer, allowing blood flow to separate intimal and medial layers. Due to its scarcity and the paucity of related literature, our knowledge of this condition is limited. We present a rare case of a cocaine-induced aortic dissection, which extended continuously from the aortic root to the common iliacs, along with a literature review of similar cases.
A 48-year-old male with recent cocaine use presented with left-sided chest-pain, which radiated to the back with nausea, diaphoresis, and shortness of breath. The patient was hypotensive. The initial radiographs and computed tomography were negative. The cardiac enzymes were elevated and the patient was admitted to rule out acute coronary syndrome. Next day echocardiogram and computed tomography revealed a Type-A aortic dissection continuously extending from the aortic root to the left common iliac artery. The patient was immediately transferred for surgery. Postoperatively, he developed acute kidney injury and shock liver. The patient status continued to deteriorate and he expired on postoperative day four.
This case demonstrates the importance of prompt and thorough diagnostic evaluation, despite subjective history and initially negative imaging that might point towards other conditions. Unlike the previous cases, our case failed to identify the positive history of cocaine until nearly 24 hours into the patient’s hospital course, suggesting a need for close monitoring in these patients and a possible need for repeat imaging.