Extracranial vertebral artery dissections: a review of 13 cases.
Clinical and radiologic findings in 13 patients (11 women, 2 men) with extracranial vertebral artery dissection are reported. Dissection was spontaneous in 8 patients, occurred after neck manipulation in 2 and after a potential minor injury to the neck in 3. Six had a history of common migraine, 4 were using oral contraceptives at the time of dissection, and 3 had fibromuscular dysplasia. Dissection was bilateral in 8 patients and associated with carotid dissection in 3. It usually presented with neck or occipital pain preceding basilar ischemic symptoms by a few minutes to 1 month. In 3 patients, transient ischemic attacks were the only manifestation of basilar ischemia, and in 1 patient there was no symptom of basilar ischemia despite bilateral vertebral dissection. In 19 of the 21 dissected vertebral arteries, the angiographic appearance was that of an irregular stenosis, which was associated in 6 arteries with pseudoaneurysmal formation. In 2 patients, 1 vertebral artery was occluded but the contralateral artery showed the typical irregular stenosis. The dissection involved only the third segment in 33%, only the second segment in 24%, and 2 or more segments in 38%. Eleven patients were treated with anticoagulants and 2 with aspirin; 11 recovered without sequelae and 2 had residual deficit. No recurrence was observed (mean follow-up 34 months). At control angiography (n = 12) or ultrasonic study (n = 1), 63% of dissected vertebral arteries had returned to normal, 26% showed marked improvement, and 11% were occluded. Our patient characteristics are compared with those of previously published cases. The validity of the distinction between spontaneous dissection and dissection associated with minor trauma is discussed.
- Copyright © 1987 by American Heart Association