Vertebral artery dissection presenting with isolated neck pain

Krespi Y., Gurol M., Coban O., Tuncay R., Bahar S.

JOURNAL OF NEUROIMAGING, vol.12, no.2, pp.179-182, 2002 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/j.1552-6569.2002.tb00117.x
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.179-182
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


Unilateral pain in the cervical region and limitation of neck movements are nonspecific symptoms frequently encountered in daily medical practice, Vertebral artery dissection is rarely considered as a diagnostic possibility unless brainstem or cerebellar schemia follows the acute pain. Three cases of vertebral artery dissection (VAD) having the sole complaint of pain of acute onset in the posterior neck region are presented. None of the patients had ever reported a similar pain, and the neurological examination was unremarkable in all of them. Doppler ultrasonography suggested VAD in 2 cases, and the diagnosis was confirmed with T1 fat-suppressed magnetic resonance imaging technique in all patients. Severe neck pain and/or occipital headache frequently accompanies ischemic symptoms in cases with VAD. The cases in this report emphasize that spontaneous and often unilateral posterior cervical pain of acute onset can be the only manifestation of a VAD. A high degree of suspicion especially in young patients with no past history of a similar pain can help to establish the diagnosis, thereby preventing erroneous and potentially hazardous therapeutic interventions such as physiotherapy or neck manipulation.