Imaging of cervical artery dissection

Diagn Interv Imaging. 2014 Dec;95(12):1151-61. doi: 10.1016/j.diii.2014.10.003.


Cervical artery dissection (CAD) may affect the internal carotid and/or the vertebral arteries. CAD is the leading cause of ischemic stroke in patients younger than 45 years. Specific treatment (aspirin or anticoagulants) can be implemented once the diagnosis of CAD has been confirmed. This diagnosis is based on detection of a mural haematoma on ultrasound or on MRI. The diagnosis can be suspected on contrast-enhanced MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) or CT angiography, in case of long stenosis, sparing the internal carotid bulb, or suspended, at the junction of V2 and V3 segments of the vertebral artery, in patients with no signs of atheroma of the cervical arteries. MRI is recommended as the first line imaging screening tool, including a fat suppressed T1 weighted sequence, acquired in the axial or oblique plane at 1.5T, or 3D at 3T. Complete resolution of the lumen abnormality occurred in 80% of cases, and CAD recurrence is rare, encountered in less than 5% of cases. Interventional neuroradiology (angioplasty and/or stenting of the dissected vessel) may be envisaged in rare cases of haemodynamic effects with recurring clinical infarctions in the short-term.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / diagnosis*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / etiology
  • Cerebral Angiography*
  • Disease Progression
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography*
  • Prognosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / diagnosis*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / etiology