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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 03

N Z Med J



Bilateral vertebral artery dissection and cerebellar stroke: a rare complication of massage.


Birkett W, Pouryahya P, Meyer A MRD
N Z Med J. 2020 Apr 03; 133(1512):88-92.
PMID: 32242183.


Dissection of a cervical artery is a well-known cause of stroke, especially in younger patients. We describe the case of a 39-year-old male, who presented to our emergency department after a one-day history of headache and vomiting, with associated sudden onset posterior neck pain and cerebellar signs following a massage. Computed tomography angiogram and brain demonstrated bilateral vertebral artery dissection and cerebellar stroke. He was admitted to hospital for monitoring and conservative management with antiplatelet therapy, resulting in a good outcome. This is the first reported case of bilateral vertebral artery dissection and stroke to be associated with massage. This case also suggests, unlike many reports in the literature, that significant vascular pathology can result from massage even without cervical spine manipulation.