Posttraumatic cerebrovascular injuries in children. A systematic review

Childs Nerv Syst. 2020 Feb;36(2):251-262. doi: 10.1007/s00381-019-04482-9. Epub 2020 Jan 4.


Introduction: Posttraumatic craniocervical vascular injuries in pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) are rare, and children-specific, evidence-based standards on screening and therapy of posttraumatic carotid-cavernous fistula (CCF), craniocervical artery dissections (CCAD), traumatic aneurysms (TA), and posttraumatic sinus venous thrombosis (SVT) is lacking. The aim of this review is to summarize the data on epidemiology, clinical presentation, and treatment of these traumatic lesions in a systematic manner.

Methods: We performed a systematic PubMed search for records of CCF, CCAD, TA, and SVT related to pediatric TBI published until June 2019.

Results: After screening 2439 records, 42 were included in the quantitative analysis. Incidences for CCAD in blunt TBI were 0.21% (range 0.02-6.82%). 11.7% (range 1.69-15.58%) of pediatric aneurysms were found to be traumatic of origin, whereas 38.2% (range 36.84-40%) of all pediatric SVT were due to blunt TBI. For all of the posttraumatic cerebrovascular pathologies, we found a clear male predominance with 68.75% in CCF, 63.4% in CCAD, 60% in TA, and 58.33% in SVT. Clinical presentation did not differ from the adult population with exception of young child. While there is only recommendation for the therapy of CCAD and SVT in the pediatric population, no such recommendation exists for the treatment of CCF's and TA's, and data from randomized controlled trials is lacking.

Conclusion: While these results show that posttraumatic CCF, CCAD, TA, and SVT are rarely encountered in children, misdiagnosis may have potentially drastic consequences due to a longer lifetime burden in the pediatric population. Awareness, early recognition, and prompt initiation of the appropriate therapy are essential to avoid morbidity and mortality. Further studies should focus on the development of clinical and radiological screening criteria of posttraumatic vascular lesions in children.

Keywords: Arterial dissection; Carotid-cavernous fistula; Pediatric neurosurgery; Posstraumatic aneurysm; Sinus venous thrombosis; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Dissection* / complications
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Carotid-Cavernous Sinus Fistula* / etiology
  • Child
  • Computed Tomography Angiography
  • Exophthalmos* / complications
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male