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Aortic dissection (AD) represents one of the most common aortic emergencies with high incidence of morbidity and mortality. Clinical studies have shown that the increased excitability of the sympathetic nerve may be associated with the formation of AD. In this study, we examined the effects of bilateral superior cervical sympathectomy (SCGx) on the progression of β-aminopropionitrile (BAPN)-induced AD in rats.Sprague–Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups, including BAPN, BAPN + SCGx and control groups. For terminal measurements, the mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) were monitored and the basal sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) was assessed through recording the variation in arterial pressure in response to hexamethonium application. Pathological changes in the aortic wall were observed by histological staining. Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 concentrations within the aortic wall were analyzed by western blot.The results show that BAPN administration could elevate SNA and cause the formation of AD in rats with a high incidence (67.7%), while SCGx treatment inhibited the elevation of SNA and significantly reduced the incidence (20%). SCGx may suppress the formation of BAPN-induced AD via restraining the rise of HR and reducing the MMP-9 concentration in aortic wall.These results indicate that surgical techniques such as sympathetic nerve block may be a potentially useful therapy for the prevention of AD.