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Neurology. 2002 Nov 26;59(10):1552-6.

Posterior circulation stroke in childhood: risk factors and recurrence.

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  • 1Neurosciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, UK.



To ascertain whether posterior circulation stroke in children has distinctive clinical or radiologic features.


Patients were identified retrospectively from two pediatric neurology centers. Clinical details were ascertained by chart review, and radiologic data were reviewed by three neuroradiologists.


Twenty-two cases were identified (17 boys). Twenty children had evidence of vertebrobasilar arterial abnormalities, which were multifocal in 12. The etiology of these was vertebral artery dissection in 10 cases and unclear in the remaining 10. Cardiac abnormalities were rare (n = 4). Other risk factors for stroke in childhood were hypertension (n = 9), the thermolabile methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase gene mutation (n = 4), and the factor V Leiden mutation (n = 2). Two children had subluxation of the upper cervical spine at the extreme of normal limits. In follow-up for 6 months to 11 years (median 4 years), five patients had further strokes and seven had TIA. Overall, 12 patients had no residual neurologic deficits.


The male preponderance, frequency of arterial dissection, rarity of cardiac embolism, and >20% recurrence were notable. Cerebral angiography is usually indicated if a definitive diagnosis is not made on MRI. Additional investigations should include echocardiography and cervical spine radiography in flexion and extension.

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