Risk factors and clinical features of craniocervical arterial dissection

Man Ther. 2011 Aug;16(4):351-6. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2010.12.008. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


Craniocervical arterial dissection is one of the most common causes of ischaemic stroke in young people and is occasionally associated with neck manipulation. Identification of individuals at risk will guide risk management. Early recognition of dissection in progress will expedite medical intervention. Study aims were to identify risk factors and presenting features of craniocervical arterial dissection. Medical records of patients from the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia aged ≤ 55 years with radiographically confirmed or suspected vertebral or internal carotid artery dissection, were retrospectively compared with matched controls with stroke from some other cause. Records were inspected for details of clinical features, presenting signs and symptoms and preceding events. Records of 47 dissection patients (27 males, mean age 37.6 years) and 43 controls (22 males, mean age 42.6 years) were inspected. Thirty (64%) dissection patients but only three (7%) controls reported an episode of mild mechanical trauma, including manual therapy, to the cervical spine within the preceding three weeks. Mild mechanical trauma to the head and neck was significantly associated with craniocervical arterial dissection (OR 23.53). Cardiovascular risk factors for stroke were less evident in the dissection group (<1 factor per case) compared to the controls (>3).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / complications*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / diagnosis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / complications*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / diagnosis*