Journal of Neurology

, Volume 253, Issue 6, pp 724–730 | Cite as

Vertebral artery dissections after chiropractic neck manipulation in Germany over three years

  • U. Reuter
  • M. Hämling
  • I. Kavuk
  • K. M. Einhäupl
  • E. Schielke
  • for the German vertebral artery dissection study group


Vertebral artery dissection (VAD) has been observed in association with chirotherapy of the neck. However, most publications describe only single case reports or a small number of cases. We analyzed data from neurological departments at university hospitals in Germany over a three year period of time of subjects with vertebral artery dissections associated with chiropractic neck manipulation. We conducted a countrywide survey at neurological departments of all medical schools to identify patients with VAD after chirotherapy followed by a standardized questionnaire for each patient. 36 patients (mean age 40 + 11 years) with VAD were identified in 13 neurological departments. Clinical symptoms consistent with VAD started in 55% of patients within 12 hours after neck manipulation. Diagnosis of VAD was established in most cases using digital subtraction angiography (DSA), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or duplex sonography. 90% of patients admitted to hospital showed focal neurological deficits and among these 11 % had a reduced level of consciousness. 50% of subjects were discharged after 20 ± 14 hospital days with focal neurological deficits, 1 patient died and 1 was in a persistent vegetative state. Risk factors associated with artery dissections (e. g. fibromuscular dysplasia) were present in only 25% of subjects.

In summary, we describe the clinical pattern of 36 patients with vertebral artery dissections and prior chiropractic neck manipulation.

Key words

chiropractic neck manipulation artery dissection disability 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Reuter
    • 1
  • M. Hämling
    • 1
  • I. Kavuk
    • 3
  • K. M. Einhäupl
    • 1
  • E. Schielke
    • 1
    • 2
  • for the German vertebral artery dissection study group
  1. 1.Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin Dept. of NeurologyBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyAuguste Viktoria KlinikumBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity of EssenEssenGermany

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