What is the outlook following cervical artery dissection?

For spontaneous cervical artery dissection, the mortality is less than 5 percent. The risk for lasting neurological impairment from the disease is considerably higher. More than half of patients with spontaneous cervical artery dissection develop a stroke, sometimes delayed by hours or days. Even so, an estimated 75 percent of patients with spontaneous cervical artery dissection make a good recovery.

Following the first incidence of cervical artery dissection, patients have a 1 percent risk of recurrence per year over the next 10 years. Risk of recurrence is higher in the first few weeks after the initial event and in younger patients than older patients, but younger patients also respond better to treatment and have a better outlook. Some patients have reported persistent headache after cervical artery dissection, lasting years after the event.

People who have had cervical artery dissection should see a vascular or neurology specialist for a CTA, MRA or other imaging to assess the severity and extension of the dissection. This imaging is normally repeated several months later to have the dissection re-evaluated for either progression, resolution or stability of the injury.

Your doctor may recommend that you modify some of your activities, such as your exercise program, to avoid activities that may increase the risk of future events (such as heavy lifting). Patients who have had a cervical artery dissection may need to be checked for vascular disease in other parts of the body.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2019.

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