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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 410-414

Concomitant cervical spine fractures are the primary driver of disability after traumatic vertebral artery dissection: A Case series of 123 patients

Department of Neurological Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Correspondence Address:
Michael Brendan Cloney
Department of Neurological Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 676 N. St. Clair, Suite 2210, Chicago, Illinois 60611
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcvjs.jcvjs_111_22

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Background: Traumatic vertebral artery dissections (tVADs) occur in up to 20% of patients with head trauma, yet data on their presentation and associated sequelae are limited. Aims and Objectives: To characterize the tVAD population and identify factors associated with clinical outcomes. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively analyzed all cases of tVAD at our institution from January 2004 to December 2018 with respect to mechanism of injury, clinical presentation, anatomic factors, associated pathologies, and relevant outcomes. Results: Of the 123 patients with tVAD, the most common presenting symptoms were neck pain (n=76, 67.3%), headache (57.5%), and visual changes (29.6%). 101 cases (82.1%) were unilateral, and 22 cases (17.9%) were bilateral. V2 was the most involved anatomic segment (83 cases, 70.3). 30 cases (25.4%) led to stroke, and 39 cases (31.7%) had a concomitant cervical fracture. The anatomic segment and number of segments involved, and baseline clinical and demographic characteristics were not associated with risk of stroke. Patients with associated fractures were older (50.3 years v. 36.4 years, p=0.0233), had a higher comorbid disease burden (CCI 1 vs. CCI 1, p<0.0007), were more likely to smoke (OR 3.0 [1.2178, 7.4028], p=0.0202), be male (OR 7.125 [3.0181, 16.8236], p<0.0001), and have mRS≥3 at discharge (OR 3.0545 [1.0937, 8.5752], p=0.0449). On multivariable regression, only fracture independently predicted mRS≥3 at discharge (OR 5.6898 [1.5067, 21.4876], p=0.010). Conclusion: tVADs may be associated with stroke and/or cervical fracture. Presenting symptoms predict stroke, but baseline demographic and clinical characteristics do not. Comorbid cervical fractures, not stroke, drive negative outcomes

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