DeBakey classification

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 18 Jan 2022

The DeBakey classification, along with the Stanford classification, is used to separate aortic dissections into those that need surgical repair, and those that usually require only medical management.

Both the Stanford and DeBakey systems can be used to describe all forms of the acute aortic syndrome (dissection, aneurysm, penetrating atherosclerotic ulcer and intramural hematoma).

The DeBakey classification divides dissections into 1-5:

  • type I: involves ascending and descending aorta (= Stanford A)
  • type II: involves ascending aorta only (= Stanford A)
  • type III: involves descending aorta only, commencing after the origin of the left subclavian artery (= Stanford B)

The American cardiothoracic surgeon, Michael DeBakey (1908-2008) 12, with colleagues, were the first group to successfully surgically-treat a patient with aortic dissection in 1955; in their initial cohort of 6 patients, 4 made a full uneventful postoperative recovery 9,10.

In 1965, DeBakey published the paper describing his classification system based upon a series of 179 surgically-treated patients with dissecting aortic aneurysms 11.

Towards the end of 2005, DeBakey had a dissecting aortic aneurysm, and - in what may be a medical first - was successfully operated on using his own procedure. At 98 years, he was the oldest survivor of this emergent procedure 12.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: type I
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1: type I
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: type II
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: type II
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 3: type III
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3: type III
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 4: type III
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 5: type I
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.