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Tortuous vertebral artery injury complicating anterior cervical spinal fusion in a symptomatic rheumatoid cervical spine

Tortuous vertebral artery injury complicating anterior cervical spinal fusion in a symptomatic rheumatoid cervical spine

Spine 29(16): E343-E348

Study Design. A case report of a 60-year-old patient with rheumatoid arthritis who sustained injury of a tortuous vertebral artery after anterior cervical spinal fusion is reported. The literature relevant to this topic is reviewed. Objective. To report the surgical injury of a tortuous vertebral artery resulting from rheumatoid arthritis and to stress the value of cross-sectional imaging in identifying this anomaly before surgery in these patients. Background Data. Rheumatoid arthritis causes well-known bony complications such as atlantoaxial and subaxial subluxation and spinal stenosis with spinal cord compression. Less emphasized is vertebral artery loop formation and vascular compression. Anomalous vertebral artery position could jeopardize otherwise successful anterior diskectomy and corpectomy in these patients. Methods. A 60-year-old man with rheumatoid arthritis sustained a vertebral artery injury during anterior corpectomy, which resulted in cerebral and cerebellar infarction. Results. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging and angiography confirmed the medially deviated vertebral artery. A computed tomography scan confirmed the cerebral infarction that resulted from dissection and injury of the artery at the time of surgery. Conclusion. The patient with rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine could have associated tortuosity of the vertebral artery, mandating a thorough awareness of vascular anatomy before surgical decompression. Cross-sectional imaging effectively locates the position of the vertebral arteries and should be carefully studied before anterior cervical spinal fusion in these patients.

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Accession: 012698738

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PMID: 15303043

DOI: 10.1097/01.brs.0000134593.98662.d0

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