JOURNAL ARTICLE

Clinical and radiographic natural history of cervical artery dissections

Neil E Schwartz, A Talia Vertinsky, Karen G Hirsch, Gregory W Albers
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases: the Official Journal of National Stroke Association 2009, 18 (6): 416-23
19900642

BACKGROUND: Cervical artery dissection (CADsx) is a common cause of stroke in young patients, but long-term clinical and radiographic follow-up from a large population is lacking.

METHODS: Epidemiologic data, treatment, recurrence, and other features were extracted from the records of all patients seen at our stroke center with confirmed CAD during a 15-year period. A subset of cases was examined to provide detailed information about vessel status.

RESULTS: In all, 177 patients (mean age 44.0 +/- 11.1 years) were identified, with the male patients being older than the female patients. Almost 60% of dissections were spontaneous, whereas the remainder involved some degree of head and/or neck trauma. More than 70% of patients were treated with anticoagulation. During follow-up (mean 18.2 months; 0-220 months) there were 15 cases (8.5%) of recurrent ischemic events, and two cases (1.1%) of a recurrent dissection. About half of recurrent stroke/transient ischemic attack events occurred within 2 weeks of presentation. There was no clear association between the choice of antithrombotic agent and recurrent ischemic events. Detailed analysis of imaging findings was performed in 51 cases. Some degree of recanalization was seen in 58.8% of patients overall, and was more frequent in women. The average time to total or near-total recanalization was 4.7 +/- 2.5 months. Patients with complete occlusions at presentation tended not to recanalize.

CONCLUSIONS: This large series from a single institution highlights many of the features of CAD. A relatively benign course with low recurrence rate is supported, independent of the type and duration of antithrombotic therapy.

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