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J Neurol. 1999 Aug;246(8):683-8.

Stroke following chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine.

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Department of Neurology, University of Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, D-45122 Essen, Germany.


We analyzed the clinical course and neuroradiological findings of ten patients aged 27-46 years, with ischemic stroke secondary to vertebral artery dissection (VAD; n = 8) or internal carotid artery dissection (CAD; n = 2), all following chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine. The following observations were made: (a) All patients had uneventful medical histories, no or only mild vascular risk factors, and no predisposing vascular lesions. (b) VAD was unilateral in five patients and bilateral in three. VAD was located close to the atlantoaxial joint in all eight patients and showed additional involvement of lower sections in six, as well as temporary occlusion of one vertebral artery in three. (c) Nine of ten patients had brain infarction documented by magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography. (d) Onset of symptoms was immediately after the manipulation (n = 5) or within 2 days (n = 5). (e) Progression of neurological deficits occurred within the following hours to a maximum of 3 weeks. (f) Maximum neurological deficits were severe in nine of ten patients. (g) Outcome after 4 weeks-3 years included no or mild neurological deficits in five patients, marked deficits in three, persistent locked-in syndrome in one, and persistent vegetative state in one. (h) Informed consent was obtained in only one of ten patients. Thus, patients at risk for stroke after chiropractic manipulation may not be identified a priori. Neurological deficits may be severely disabling and are potentially life threatening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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