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Vertebral Artery Injury After Cervical Spine Trauma

In this study, researchers performed magnetic resonance angiography on 61 patients admitted to a hospital with cervical spine trauma. The authors found that "complete disruption of blood flow through the vertebral artery was demonstrated...in 12 of the 61 patients (19.7%)." Flexion injuries were found to be the most common type of injury in patients with vertebral artery injury.

The most common symptom reported by these 12 patients was transient blurring of vision.

Since all of the subjects in this study were admitted into the hospital, they were serious injuries. Vertebral artery injury, however, has also been reported after whiplash injuries. The authors of this study state that "those patients who exhibit neurologic symptoms of vertebral artery insufficiency that do not correlate with the presenting bone and soft-tissue injuries noted on standard trauma imaging series may have a vertebral artery injury."

Giacobetti FB, Vaccaro AR, Bos-Giacobetti MA, et al. Vertebral artery occlusion associated with cervical spine trauma. Spine 1997;22(2):188-192.