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J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2012 Nov;21(8):903.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2011.02.007. Epub 2011 Mar 25.

"Ostrich sign" indicates bilateral vertebral artery dissection.

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Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Vertebral artery dissections (VADs) comprise about 2% of ischemic strokes and can be associated with trauma, chiropractic manipulation, motor vehicle collisions, whiplash, amusement park rides, golfing, and other motion-induced injuries to the neck. We present a case of bilateral extracranial VAD as a complication of conducting an orchestra. To our knowledge, this has not been documented in the literature. Conceivably, vigorous neck twisting in an inexperienced, amateur conductor may place excessive rotational forces upon mobile portions of the verterbral arteries, tear the intima, deposit subintimal blood that extends longitudinally, and cause neck pain and/or posterior fossa ischemic symptoms. Magnetic resonance angiography examinations of axially oriented slices of bilateral VADs resemble the face of an ostrich. This observation is similar to the "puppy sign," in which bilateral internal carotid artery dissections resemble the face of a dog. Craniocervical dissections of either the carotid or vertebral arteries have the potential to form an aneurysm, cause artery-to-artery embolism, or completely occlude the parent artery, resulting in an ischemic stroke. Because bilateral VADs in axial magnetic resonance angiographic sections stand out like the eyes of an ostrich, and because the fast identification of VADs is so critical, we eponymize this image the "ostrich sign."

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