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Vertebrobasilar thrombosis associated with nonpenetrating cervical spine trauma.

Journal of Trauma 1996 January
Vertebral artery injuries associated with blunt trauma to the cervical spine are rare. Five cases of vertebrobasilar complications after blunt trauma to the cervical spine are reported. Four were involved in motor vehicle accidents, and one suffered a diving injury. All of these patients had documented cervical spine fractures. For two patients, the diagnosis of vertebral artery thrombosis was made on the basis of magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and for the remaining three, cervical four-vessel arteriograms (CFVAs), were used. All the patients had occlusion of flow in either the vertebral artery or in the vertebrobasilar circulation. The patients presented with acute, non-specific changes in neurological status. Two patients had infarctions in the vertebrobasilar tertiary, one had an infarction in the middle cerebral artery territory, and two did not show evidence of cerebral infarction. Three of the patients were treated with anticoagulants. Of these, two showed a stabilization of their neurological status, and one died. The four surviving patients improved with early physical and occupational therapy. Although CFVA remains the "gold standard" for diagnosing these injuries, newer modalities, such as MRA, may be useful adjuncts. Early stabilization of the cervical spine injury and anticoagulation are beneficial.

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