Carotid artery dissection (tear)

Head | Neurology | Carotid artery dissection (tear) (Disease)


Carotid artery dissection is the most common cause of stroke in young adults. It is a medical condition that occurs when the layers of the artery that supply oxygen-bearing blood to the head and brain separates.

Sometimes a stroke is the first sign of carotid artery dissection. Symptoms include headache, neck and face pain, vision disturbances such as double vision or a droopy eyelid, a sudden decrease in sense of taste and weakness on one side of the body.

Causes and Risk factors

The causes of internal carotid artery dissection can be divided in two classes: spontaneous or traumatic. Certain medical conditions such as Marfan syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disease, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, fibromuscular dysplasia or atherosclerosis put individuals at risk for developing spontaneous carotid artery dissection. Carotid artery dissection also can occur as a result of blunt trauma injury to the neck, such as a car accident or a fall, or from hyperextension of the neck in sports or exercise. High blood pressure and smoking increase the risk for both types of carotid artery dissection.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Helical computed Tomography Angiography (CTA), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computer Tomography (CT) and x-ray are the common investigation.

The goal of treatment is to prevent the development or continuation of neurologic deficits. Treatments include observation, anticoagulation, stent implantation and carotid artery ligation. Steps that reduce the risk of heart disease are: healthy eating, weight management, exercise and smoking cessation. ...

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