Spontaneous dissection of the extracranial vertebral arteries.
Though the syndrome of carotid artery dissection is well known, "spontaneous" vertebral artery dissection is rarely recognized. We now report clinical and radiologic findings in five patients with presumed vertebral dissection, one pathologically confirmed. Mean age was 35.2 years (range 27-41). Two were men; three women. None had hypertension, vascular disease, or trauma. Headache and neck or occipital pain was prominent in all, often preceding other symptoms. Four of five patients had unilateral partial alteral medullary syndromes, in one accompanied by medial medullary signs. One patient had a cerebellar infarct. Angiography in four patients showed severe irregular stenosis of the distal extracranial vertebral artery (three bilaterally). A fifth patient with irregular stenosis above the vertebral origin had verified extensive dissection in the resected segment. No patient developed late ischemia. Repeat angiography in three showed healing. We conclude that spontaneous vertebral artery dissection, though rare, has recognizable clinical and radiologic features.
- Copyright © 1985 by American Heart Association