Diagnosis of vertebral artery dissection in childhood posterior circulation arterial ischaemic stroke

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2016 Jan;58(1):63-9. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12945. Epub 2015 Oct 26.


Aim: Review a series of children with posterior circulation arterial ischaemic stroke (PCAIS) to identify diagnostic modality and associations in cases of vertebral artery dissection (VAD).

Method: Retrospective analysis of 30 cases of childhood PCAIS identified from two tertiary centres over 11 years. Clinical and demographic details were recorded. Brain and cerebrovascular imaging were reviewed. Aetiology was classified using the Childhood Arterial Ischaemic Stroke Standardized Classification and Diagnostic Evaluation criteria. Outcome was evaluated using standardized paediatric stroke outcome scores. Logistic regression was used to explore variables associated with diagnosis.

Results: Twenty-three patients were male (77%) and 7 were female (23%). VAD was the most commonly identified aetiology, in 15 cases (50%). Aetiology was undetermined in 12 (40%), probable cardioembolism in two, and reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome in one. In those with VAD, diagnosis was made on initial magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) in six (40%). Further cases of VAD were diagnosed with catheter angiography (n=6), computed tomographic angiography (n=1), or follow-up MRA (n=2). Presence of multiple infarcts was associated with a diagnosis of VAD.

Interpretation: Endoluminal cerebrovascular imaging increases the rate of diagnosis of VAD in childhood PCAIS and should especially be considered if there are multiple infarcts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / complications*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / diagnosis