Recurrent ischemic events in two patients with painless vertebral artery dissection.
Vertebral artery dissection causes endothelial changes and stenosis that may lead to recurrent ischemic neurological events. The diagnosis may not be obvious because the dissection may be painless and "spontaneous" (no obvious trauma). Magnetic resonance angiography has increasingly been used to screen patients for this disorder, but its accuracy has not yet been established.
Two patients were admitted with repeated transient ischemic attacks and strokes over 11 months and 1 month, respectively. Neither had a history of trauma, cervical pain, or headache. Magnetic resonance angiography failed to visualize vertebral artery dissections that were later revealed by conventional angiography. One patient's events were stopped by balloon occlusion of the vertebral artery proximal to the posterior inferior cerebellar artery branch.
Magnetic resonance angiography is not yet sensitive enough to always visualize vertebral artery dissection. Vertebral artery dissection is a life-threatening condition that requires aggressive evaluation and treatment.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association