University of Oulu

Cervicocephalic artery dissection : radiological study with clinical outcome

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Author: Pelkonen, Outi1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Diagnostic Radiology
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2004
Publish Date: 2004-01-30
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium 7 of Oulu University Hospital, on January 30th, 2004, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Pekka Keto
Professor Juhani Sivenius


The aim of this study was to analyze angiographic findings and the presence and topography of cerebral ischemic and/or hemorrhagic lesions in cerebral CT or MRI, and to assess the long-term clinical outcome of a series of 136 consecutive cervicocephalic artery dissection (CCAD) patients. Pulsatile tinnitus was evaluated as a symptom of CCAD. Medical records and films were reviewed retrospectively.

Irregular stenosis was found in angiography in 50% and occlusion in 33% of the dissected cervicocephalic arteries. Irregular stenosis normalized in 81% and occlusion recanalized in 34%. Other findings, such as pseudoaneurysms, intimal flaps, double lumens, and irregular dilatations were rare and often remained unchanged in follow-up.

Pulsatile tinnitus was a presenting symptom in 12% of the CCAD patients, but the majority of patients had concomitant head or neck pain, ischemic brain symptoms, Horner’s syndrome, or cranial neuropathies.

Of the 131 patients who underwent brain imaging, 73 (56%) had signs of infarction in cerebral CT or MRI. Occlusion of the dissected vessel was accompanied by infarction in 76%, irregular stenosis in 40%, and other findings only rarely. Of the anterior circulation infarctions, 95% (39/41) were territorial, subcortical, or territorial infarctions with fragmentation and could thus be considered embolic. Subarachnoid hemorrhage was found in CT in 5 of the 22 patients (23%) with intracranial dissection.

The patient’s long-term clinical outcome was assessed using two methods: a classification into categories based on neurological symptoms and defects and the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). Of the 136 CCAD patients, 60% recovered with no or mild disability and 79% scored 0–2 on mRS. In the case of dissection of one or more cervicocephalic arteries without occlusion, the figures were 75% and 89%. In the case of occlusive dissection of one or more arteries, only about 35% of the patients recovered well, having no or mild disability, and 61% scored 0–2 on mRS. No significant differences were seen in recovery after intra- and extracranial dissections.

In conclusion: irregular stenosis, which is the most common angiographic finding in CCAD, is associated with brain infarction less frequently than occlusion, and the long-term clinical outcome is good in most cases. Occlusion of the dissected vessel causes more brain infarctions, and only about 35% of the patients recover well, having no or mild disability. More than 10% of CCAD patients have pulsatile tinnitus as a presenting, and sometimes the only symptom.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7270-6
ISBN Print: 951-42-7269-2
Issue: 775
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2004. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.