Seventh Cervical Rib Associated with Subclavian Artery Occlusion and Multiple Infarcts: Case Report

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A cervical rib, or supernumerary (extra) rib arising from the 7th cervical vertebra, is a congenital abnormality that occurs in less than 1% of the population. Clinically, it can cause obscure nervous or vascular symptoms and be difficult to diagnose. In this rare case, a 37-year-old woman developed a subclavian artery occlusion after undergoing a chiropractic manipulation for neck, shoulder, and arm pain. The occlusion led to multiple cerebellar infarcts, frontal subarachnoid hemorrhage, myocardial infarction, and right-hand vascular compromise. The patient was subsequently diagnosed with a 7th cervical rib, which likely caused compression of the subclavian artery after a hyperextension injury sustained during the chiropractic procedure. The departments of vascular surgery, neurosurgery, cardiology, and neurology collaborated to review all elements of the patient's diagnosis and care. After the patient was stabilized, she spent 6 weeks in acute inpatient rehabilitation; upon discharge, her symptoms were greatly improved but still present. Three months later, the patient underwent a subclavian-artery-to-axillary-artery bypass with resection of the left cervical rib. She tolerated surgery well with no complications. As a result of the devastating insults sustained secondary to the presence of the 7th cervical rib and her subclavian artery occlusion, this patient faced months of recovery. Treatment involved a structured interdisciplinary plan of care.

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