Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of patients seen at a single institution who were diagnosed with a cervical vessel dissection related to chiropractic neck manipulation.
Methods: We identified cases through a retrospective chart review of patients seen between April 2008 and March 2012 who had a diagnosis of cervical artery dissection following a recent chiropractic manipulation. Relevant imaging studies were reviewed by a board-certified neuroradiologist to confirm the findings of a cervical artery dissection and stroke. We conducted telephone interviews to ascertain the presence of residual symptoms in the affected patients.
Results: Of the 141 patients with cervical artery dissection, 12 had documented chiropractic neck manipulation prior to the onset of the symptoms that led to medical presentation. The 12 patients had a total of 16 cervical artery dissections. All 12 patients developed symptoms of acute stroke. All strokes were confirmed with magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography. We obtained follow-up information on 9 patients, 8 of whom had residual symptoms and one of whom died as a result of his injury.
Conclusion: In this case series, 12 patients with newly diagnosed cervical artery dissection(s) had recent chiropractic neck manipulation. Patients who are considering chiropractic cervical manipulation should be informed of the potential risk and be advised to seek immediate medical attention should they develop symptoms.