Prognostic relevance of limb shaking in symptomatic carotid artery occlusion

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011;32(1):35-40. doi: 10.1159/000326076. Epub 2011 May 11.


Background: Internal carotid artery (ICA) occlusion, present in up to 15% of stroke patients, may cause low-flow transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) like limb shaking (LS) or retinal claudication (RC). Reliable data on the frequency of these phenomena and their potential prognostic relevance are still sparse.

Aims: To provide more data about the frequency of low-flow TIA and investigate their influence on outcome.

Material and methods: Medical records of 260 consecutive patients with symptomatic ICA occlusion were carefully reviewed (survey period: January 2000 to December 2006). Baseline stroke severity and outcome at 90 days and in the long term were assessed. All patients were specifically questioned about symptoms of LS and RC, were exposed to bright light (pupillary testing) and carefully watched during testing of posture/gait and early mobilization.

Results: LS, RC or both occurred in 28.6, 9.5 and 2.7%, respectively, of patients eligible for a thorough assessment of low-flow TIAs (n = 147). An adverse outcome was more likely in patients with LS than in those without at day 90 (modified Ranking Scale ≥4, 45.2 vs. 21.9%, p = 0.005) and in the long term (median, 37 months) (52.7 vs. 23.1%, p < 0.001). In a multivariable analysis, prognostic relevance was found to be independent of baseline stroke severity (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale). There was also a tendency towards higher rates of recurrent stroke and TIA in limb shakers. RC had no prognostic relevance regarding functional outcome and recurrent events.

Conclusion: In patients with ICA occlusion, RC and LS are more common than previously assumed. The presence of LS is associated with a worse outcome independent of initial stroke severity and patient characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / complications*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / complications*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / epidemiology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Retinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tremor / epidemiology
  • Tremor / etiology*