Evaluation of a Traumatic Vertebral Artery Occlusion

World Neurosurg. 2017 May:101:815.e13-815.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.02.089. Epub 2017 Feb 27.


Background: Penetrating neck injury occurs in 5%-10% of all trauma cases and carries a significant burden of morbidity and mortality (15%). We describe the evaluation and management of a 25-year-old man shot in the neck with occlusion of the left vertebral artery from its origin to C6. This is a case report in which medical data were analyzed retrospectively with institutional review board approval.

Case description: Neurologic examination revealed paresthesias and dysesthesias in a left C8 dermatomal distribution. Computed tomography angiography of the neck demonstrated no opacification of the left vertebral artery from its origin to C6. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine revealed an acute infarct in the left cerebellum. A cerebral angiogram highlighted hemodynamic compromise, and the patient was felt to be at significant risk of further cerebral infarction. Augmenting flow to the posterior circulation would mitigate that risk. The patient was taken to the operating room for a transposition of the vertebral artery to the common carotid artery.

Conclusions: The patient presented with silent cerebellar infarction due to a vertebral artery injury and impending vertebrobasilar insufficiency. This case demonstrates clinical evaluation of the posterior circulation and treatment with a bypass technique through mobilization of the vertebral artery from the boney vertebral foramen with anastomosis to the common carotid.

Keywords: Cerebrovascular circulation; Posterior cerebral circulation; Revascularization; Stroke; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / etiology*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vertebral Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vertebral Artery / surgery
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / etiology
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / surgery
  • Wounds, Gunshot / complications*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnostic imaging*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery