Sulcal artery syndrome: A Three-patient series and review of literature

J Clin Neurosci. 2021 Jun:88:47-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2021.03.013. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


Objective: This study aims to describe the clinical characteristics of patients with sulcal artery syndrome, and between those with vertebral artery dissection against those without.

Methods: We report three cases of sulcal artery syndrome without vertebral artery dissection, performed a systematic review and retrospective analysis of the characteristics of patients with sulcal artery syndrome in available literature, and compared the clinical features of those with vertebral artery dissection against those without.

Results: We report 3 patients with sulcal artery syndrome, and analysed them with 17 other cases identified in literature between January 1990 till April 2020. The mean age was 47 years (range 10-80), with twice as many males as females. Pain at onset was a prominent feature (17/18, 94.4%). Preceding trauma occurred in less than half (7/18, 38.9%). Most had cervical cord infarctions (18/20, 90%), often over the high cervical cord (16/18, 88.9%). Good functional recovery (mRS 0-2) was observed in 86.7% (13/15). While vertebral artery dissection was the leading aetiology (11/20, 55.5%), about half of the cases were due to other causes. Cervical cord involvement was significantly associated with vertebral artery dissection (p = 0.026).

Conclusion: Sulcal artery syndrome should be suspected in patients with acute hemicord syndrome, especially in males with cervical cord involvement or pain at onset. High cervical cord involvement was strongly suggestive of underlying vertebral artery dissection. Additionally, DWI sequences are useful when evaluating acute myelopathies, and its inclusion in conventional MRI sequences is supported in prevailing literature.

Keywords: Cerebrovascular disease; Spinal cord disorders; Spinal cord infarction; Sulcal artery syndrome; Vertebral artery dissection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infarction / etiology
  • Infarction / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection