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Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2015 Jan;28(1):88-90.

Vertebral artery dissection after a chiropractor neck manipulation.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas (J. Jones); the Department of Medical Oncology, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas (C. Jones); and the Department of Internal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas (Nugent).


The differential diagnosis for ischemic central nervous system infarcts in young patients includes paradoxic emboli through cardiac shunts, vasculitis, and vascular trauma. We report a young woman who developed headache, vomiting, diplopia, dizziness, and ataxia following neck manipulation by her chiropractor. A computed tomography scan of the head revealed an infarct in the inferior half of the left cerebellar hemisphere and compression of the fourth ventricle causing moderate acute obstructive hydrocephalus. Magnetic resonance angiography revealed severe narrowing and low flow in the intracranial segment of the left distal vertebral artery. The patient was treated with mannitol and a ventriculostomy and had an excellent functional recovery. This report illustrates the potential hazards associated with neck trauma, including chiropractic manipulation. The vertebral arteries are at risk for aneurysm formation and/or dissection, which can cause acute stroke.

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