Patient: Roseann Errante, 36, mother-to-be
Doctors: Alan Monheit, obstetric surgeon, and Frank Seifert, heart surgeon, Stony Brook University Hospital
Patient’s husband: Joe Errante
Roseann: At 30 weeks I woke up with chest pains. It was like nothing I’d ever felt. The pains went up to my neck, ears, and head.
Monheit: I was on call when she came in. Her tests looked fine, but with the pain traveling to her neck, we called a cardiologist.
Joe: I was joking with the technicians that we were praying for preeclampsia—which is terrible. But at least we would’ve known what it was. They were looking at the scan and suddenly everyone stopped joking.
Seifert: She had aortic dissection, a tear in the inside wall of the aorta. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It starts at the heart and goes up to the great vessel, which supplies the brain, then loops around and goes down the back and supplies all the organs. Roseann’s dissection was in the part between the heart and the great vessel. Think of it as a run in a stocking. It could either stay where it was or just keep on going.
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