Cerebral Infarction Due to Painless Thoracic Aortic and Common Carotid Artery Dissections

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Aortic arch dissection is usually lethal unless emergency surgery is performed. The dissection rarely may have a benign outcome or may occur without pain and be revealed by cerebral infarction. It is then likely to be seen primarily by a neurologist. In such cases, the value of new noninvasive diagnostic testing has not been reported.

Case Description

A 51-year-old man had a sudden left-sided hemiplegia due to hemorrhagic capsular and caudate infarcts on the right side. Cervical ultrasound examination with color flow imaging showed a bilateral common carotid artery dissection extending up to the bifurcation. Transesophageal echocardiography showed an aortic arch dissection, involving the inominate and left common carotid artery origins, which was confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging and aortography. The patient spontaneously fully recovered and is still alive 24 months after the stroke onset.


This case emphasizes the usefulness of new noninvasive techniques such as transesophageal echocardiography and color-coded Doppler echocardiography in the diagnosis and follow-up of painless dissection of aortic and common carotid arteries. This cause of stroke may be underestimated.

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