Cerebrovascular dissections: a review. Part II: blunt cerebrovascular injury

Neurosurgery. 2011 Feb;68(2):517-30; discussion 530. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3181fe2fda.


Traumatic cerebrovascular injury (TCVI) is present in approximately 1% of all blunt force trauma patients and is associated with injuries such as head and cervical spine injuries and thoracic trauma. Increased recognition of patients with TCVI in the past quarter century has been because of aggressive screening protocols and noninvasive imaging with computed tomography angiography. Extracranial carotid and vertebral artery injuries demonstrate a spectrum of severity, from intimal disruption to traumatic aneurysm formation or vessel occlusion. The most common intracranial arterial injuries are carotid-cavernous fistulae and traumatic aneurysms. Data on the long-term natural history of TCVI are limited, and management of patients with TCVI is controversial. Although antithrombotic medical therapy is associated with improved neurological outcomes, the optimal medication regimen is not yet established. Endovascular techniques have become more popular than surgery for the treatment of TCVI; endovascular options include stenting of dissections, intra-arterial thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke caused by trauma, and embolization of traumatic aneurysms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / pathology*