Cerebrovascular fibromuscular dysplasia: The MGH cohort and literature review

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Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a rare noninflammatory, nonatherosclerotic arteriopathy of medium-sized arteries affecting up to 7% of the population. The disease can affect any artery but commonly affects renal, extracranial carotid, and vertebral arteries. The epidemiology and natural course of cerebrovascular FMD is unknown and requires further investigation.


We present demographic and outcomes data on a case series of 81 patients with cerebrovascular FMD from Massachusetts General Hospital presenting between 2011 and 2015 followed by a review of the peer-reviewed literature.


Patients were a median age of 53 years (±12 SD) and the majority were women. Approximately 50% had a history of tobacco use and more than two-thirds had hypertension. Most patients were on monoplatelet therapy with aspirin; during follow-up, 7 of 67 had progressive disease or additional symptoms. One of 67 patients had a cerebrovascular event: TIA. There were 5 of 67 who had noncerebrovascular events or disease progression and 1 death of unclear cause.


Cerebrovascular FMD may present with myriad symptoms. Our data support that patients with FMD with symptomatic disease have a low rate of recurrent symptoms or disease progression and can be managed conservatively with stroke risk modification, antiplatelet agents, surveillance imaging, and counseling.

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