Objective and importance: Spontaneous dissection of the extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) and vertebral artery (VA) is a well-documented cause of stroke in young, previously healthy patients. The majority of patients with spontaneous dissection are successfully treated with antiplatelet or anticoagulation therapy, but a significant proportion of patients progress to suffer devastating morbidity and mortality. Surgical intervention has primarily consisted of proximal ligation, extracranial-intracranial bypass, or endarterectomy. Generally, these procedures are technically demanding and yield disappointing clinical results.
Clinical presentation/intervention: A 36-year-old man without a significant medical history initially presented with a several-day history of episodic right upper extremity weakness and numbness and visual obscurations. Cerebral angiography revealed bilateral ICA long segment narrowing (95%), distal left VA high-grade (95%) stenosis compatible with dissections, and right VA proximal occlusion. While therapeutically anticoagulated on heparin, the patient continued to experience crescendo episodes of right upper extremity paresis and paresthesias as well as aphasia. The patient underwent primary stenting of the left ICA, using a series of six overlapping stents (three Gianturco-Roubin coronary stents and three Palmaz-Schatz coronary stents). The patient remained symptom-free without neurological complications, and subsequent angiography performed at the 9-month follow-up examination confirmed continued patency of the stented left ICA as well as recanalization of the right ICA and VA.
Conclusion: Neurovascular stents offer a minimally invasive and potentially efficacious treatment for the prevention of cerebral ischemia in patients with spontaneous extracranial dissection who remain symptomatic despite therapeutic anticoagulation.