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Long-term outcome of cervical artery dissection.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study is to evaluate the natural history of extracranial cervical artery dissection (CAD) including comorbidities, symptoms at presentation, recurrence of symptoms, and long-term outcome following different treatment approaches.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients treated for acute CAD was performed over a 5-year period from January 2017 to April 2022.

RESULTS: Thirty-nine patients were included in the study, 25 (64.1%) with acute internal carotid artery dissection and 14 (35.9%) with acute vertebral artery dissection. Thirty-four patients (87.1%) had spontaneous CAD, and five patients (12.8%) had traumatic CAD. The mean age of the cohort was 54.2 years. The mean time from symptom onset to presentation was 4.34 days. The most common symptoms in internal carotid artery dissection were unilateral weakness (44%), headache (44%), slurred speech (36%), facial droop (28%), unilateral paraesthesia (24%), neck pain (12%), visual disturbance (8%), and Horner's syndrome (8%). The most common symptoms in vertebral artery dissection were headache (35.7%), neck pain (35.7%), vertigo (28.57%), ataxia (14.28%), and slurred speech (14.28%). The imaging modalities used for diagnosis included computed tomography angiography (48.7%), magnetic resonance angiography (41%), and duplex ultrasound (10.2%). In patients with carotid artery dissection, 57% had severe stenosis, 24% had moderate stenosis, and 20% had mild stenosis. All patients treated were managed conservatively with either anticoagulation or antiplatelets. Long-term clinical follow-up was available for 33 patients (84.6%). Thirty patients (90.9%) reported complete resolution of symptoms, and three patients (9%) reported persistent symptoms. Anatomic follow-up with imaging was available for 17 patients (43.58%). Thirteen patients (76.47%) had complete resolution of dissection, two patients (11.76%) had partial resolution of dissection, and two patients (11.76%) had persistent dissection. There was one death unrelated to CAD in a multi-trauma patient. There were four early recurrent symptoms in the first 3 to 8 weeks post discharge. The mean follow-up time was 308.27 days.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of CADs can be managed conservatively with good clinical and anatomical outcome and low rates of recurrence.

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