Vertebral artery dissection due to indirect neck trauma : an underrecognised entity

Neurol India. 2001 Dec;49(4):384-90.


Vertebral artery dissection is an important cause of brain stem stroke, especially in the young. Dissections of carotid and vertebral arteries in neck account for about 20% of strokes in young compared with 2.5% in the elderly. Three patients of vertebral artery dissection related to indirect neck trauma are described. The first patient developed the symptoms while dancing, the second after a trivial fall and the third while he was on a dental chair. None of them had a direct severe neck trauma or concomitant risk factor like hypertension, connective tissue disease or migraine. Clinical symptomatology was similar in all the patients and included occipito-nuchal pain, headache and brain stem dysfunction chiefly in the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) territory. One of the patients also had associated ischaemic myelopathy. MRA and DSA confirmed dissection in all with a predominant steno-occlusive picture. Cases of so called trivial neck movement/torsion related dissection have been described previously but have not received any major importance. Usually classified as 'spontaneous' or 'traumatic', there is a possible ambiguity in literature about appropriate terminology. We emphasise that a history of such subtle precipitating events be taken while diagnosing young patients with brain stem strokes, to recognise this clinical entity. Although mechanisms are not absolutely clear, yet there seems to be an important relationship between arterial dissection and neck movements or minor trauma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / diagnosis
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / etiology*
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries / complications*
  • Vertebral Artery*