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This specimen, from the body of one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Imperial Guard. While in joy at Bonaparte’s return from imprisonment on the island of Elba in 1815 he was crying “Vive l’Empereur” when an aortic aneurysm burst into the trachea. The tear is some 4cm in length. Blood travelling through the aorta is under pressure so if it ruptures, it can have dangerous consequences. This soldier died due to blood loss caused by a rupture into the trachea, or windpipe. Thoracic aortic aneurysms are rare, occurring in in about 6-10 people per 100,000. If symptoms are detected before a rupture, surgery can be carried out to repair the aorta using an artificial sleeve around the vessel or a graft

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