Aortic Dissection and Aneurysm After Fluoroquinolone Use

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Cipro®, Levaquin®, and Avelox® are some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. These medications include a key ingredient - fluoride - which, although effective in eliminating infection, can also cause an array of harmful complications. Some of the severe complications patients have suffered after taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic include peripheral neuropathy, tendon rupture, and aortic dissection and aneurysm.

Red blood cells after aortic aneurysm
Many fluoroquinolone patients have experienced aortic dissection and aneurysm, which are potentially fatal complications.

Aortic dissection and aneurysm results in damage to the blood vessels, which can cause stroke, heart attack, organ failure, and can eventually be fatal without treatment. Recent studies have found that patients taking fluoroquinolone antibiotics face a significantly higher risk of aortic problems than patients who were prescribed a different type of medication. If you or a loved one has suffered from a severe complication after taking fluoroquinolone antibiotics, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury. Contact a dangerous drugs attorney today for an in-depth review of your claim and to learn about the timeline of litigation.  

Aortic Dissection

Aortic dissection is a serious, potentially fatal condition. The aorta is the large blood vessel that branches off of the heart. When the inner layer of the aorta tears, blood is allowed to pass through the opening and may cause a separation, or dissection, of the inner and middle layers of the vessel. Without treatment, an aortic dissection can lead to stroke, heart attack, or paralysis. In general, aortic dissection is relatively uncommon, and is usually seen in patients over the age of 60.

Aortic dissection may be caused by chronic high blood pressure, certain rare heart conditions, or trauma to the chest. Numerous studies, however, have also linked fluoroquinolone antibiotics to instances of aortic dissection. Patients already suffering from high blood pressure may be at an even greater risk for the condition.

Aortic Aneurysm

An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement or bulge in the aorta. Even a small aneurysm, though generally harmless, can increase the risk of the formation of atherosclerotic plaque along the artery walls, blood clots, stroke, and rupture of the aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm causes immediate and severe pain, typically accompanied by a loss of consciousness. A rupture is life threatening and requires immediate medical care.

Symptoms of Aortic Dissection and Aneurysm

Symptoms of aortic dissection are often similar to the symptoms of other conditions, such as a heart attack, which can make an accurate and timely diagnosis more difficult. Symptoms of an aortic dissection may include:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the chest or upper back. This pain is most often described as a tearing or ripping sensation.
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden trouble speaking
  • Vision impairment or vision loss
  • Loss of muscle strength or paralysis one one side of the body
  • Diminished pulse on one side of the body in comparison with the other

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Aortic aneurysm is sometimes called the silent killer because they typically do not present any symptoms until a rupture occurs. However, it is possible to experience some symptoms, including:

  • A tearing or ripping pain across the chest, abdomen, or in the upper back, usually between the shoulder blades
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrollable coughing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock
  • A ruptured aneurysm can also cause a heart attack or stroke

Both aortic dissection and aneurysm can be life threatening. Patients exhibiting any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment for Aortic Dissection and Aneurysm

Aortic dissections and aneurysms are typically diagnosed through a series of imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan. Once an accurate diagnosis is made, the doctor can make recommendations for treatment. The two most common treatment options are surgery and prescription medication. Treatment will vary depending on the extent of damage sustained and the specific area of the aorta that was damaged.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery for aortic dissection or aneurysm generally requires an open-chest procedure. In either case, the damaged portions of the aorta are removed. A surgeon may reconstruct the aorta with a graft, or may repair it with a stent. Aortic valves may also be replaced during the procedure. Following surgery, patients typically require a lifetime of blood pressure medications, in addition to regular CT scans.


When an aortic dissection or aneurysm is detected early, a doctor can prescribe medication, such as a beta-blocker, to help stabilize the patient’s condition and prevent further damage. Beta-blockers work by reducing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Despite early detection, aortic dissection or aneurysm can result in a lifetime of medication and frequent imaging scans to monitor the patient’s condition.

Complications Associated with Aortic Dissection and Aneurysm

There are a number of serious complications associated with aortic dissection and aneurysm, which makes them potentially fatal conditions. An aortic dissection can cause significant internal bleeding, damage to the aortic valve, organ damage, stroke, and death. An aortic aneurysm is associated with similar complications, including excessive internal bleeding, blood clots, and diminished blood flow to the extremities.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics can also cause other serious complications, including peripheral neuropathy. This form of nerve damage can result in permanent disabilities and require a lifetime of treatment. Tendon rupture, most commonly of the Achilles tendon, is another serious complication associated with fluoroquinolones. While such injuries are not fatal, they often require surgeries, medications, and extensive therapy.

Schedule a Consultation

If you or a loved one has suffered from a severe complication after taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, contact a defective drug attorney today to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. A skilled attorney can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, loss of income, diminished quality of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.

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