Bilateral medial medullary infarction: a systematic review

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2013 Aug;22(6):775-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2012.03.010. Epub 2012 Apr 26.


Bilateral infarction of the medial medulla (MMI) is rare. Limited information is available on clinical characteristics, etiology, and prognosis. High-resolution neuroimaging has a major role in elucidating the underlying stroke mechanism. The aim of this systematic review was to analyze the clinical presentations, stroke mechanisms, and outcomes in patients with bilateral MMI. We performed a systematic review of the literature from 1992-2011 that reported on clinical presentations, stroke mechanism, and/or outcomes in patients with magnetic resonance imaging-proven bilateral MMI. Medline, EMBASE, and Web of Science Scholars Portal were searched without language restriction. Two reviewers independently assessed identified studies to determine eligibility, validity, and quality. The primary outcome was inpatient mortality; a secondary outcome was case fatality at 12 months. We identified 138 articles from Medline, EMBASE, and Scholars Portal including the MeSH terms "brainstem infarction," "medulla," and "bilateral." Twenty-nine articles met our inclusion criteria, including a total of 38 cases with bilateral MMI, and included in our study. These 38 patients had a mean age of 62.2 years and were predominately male (74.2%). The most common clinical presentations were motor weakness in 78.4%, dysarthria in 48.6%, and hypoglossal palsy in 40.5%. The most common vascular pathology was vertebral artery atherosclerosis, in 38.5%. The clinical outcome was poor (mortality, 23.8%; dependency, 61.9%). Bilateral medial medullary infarction is a rare stroke syndrome. Clinical presentations were mostly rostral medullary lesions. Large-artery atherosclerosis and branch disease were the most common stroke mechanisms. The clinical outcome was usually poor.

Keywords: Brainstem infarction; large artery disease; small vessel disease; stroke.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Stem Infarctions* / diagnosis
  • Brain Stem Infarctions* / etiology
  • Brain Stem Infarctions* / mortality
  • Brain Stem Infarctions* / physiopathology
  • Brain Stem Infarctions* / therapy
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / blood supply*
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome