Treatment of Extracranial Arterial Dissection: the Roles of Antiplatelet Agents, Anticoagulants, and Stenting

  • Zakhar Serkin
  • Scott LeEmail author
  • Cathy Sila
Cerebrovascular Disorders (D Jamieson, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Cerebrovascular Disorders


Purpose of review

Cervicocephalic arterial dissection (CeAD) is the most commonly identified cause of stroke in young healthy individuals. The management of acute ischemic stroke due to the diagnosed or suspected CeAD is well established and is appropriate for thrombolysis. There is a substantial risk of stroke recurrence in the early post-stroke period. The optimum method of stroke prevention in the subacute period remains debatable. In our review, we focused on the management of recurrent stroke in CeAD, the choice of various antithrombotic agents for stroke risk reduction with regard to specific pathogenetic mechanisms of dissections, and the utility of endovascular therapy.

Recent findings

Recent studies suggest that various pathogenetic types of CeAD based on radiologic characteristics may be associated with greater risk of thrombogenicity, especially in the early post-stroke period. The use of anticoagulants has been shown to be effective in the eliminating microembolic signals (MES) detected by transcranial Doppler (TCD). The only randomized trial that compared combinations of antiplatelet agents and vitamin K-agonist anticoagulation did not find significant difference in risk of stroke, major bleeding, or mortality. The benefit of dual antiplatelet therapy cannot be excluded. Limited data on the use of direct oral anticoagulant agents (DOAC) is currently available. Endovascular therapy with stenting, while potentially effective, may pose significant risk of complications. Therefore, it needs to be carefully considered on a case-to-case basis.


The recurrence of ischemic stroke in patients with CeAD is overall rare. No significant difference in treatment with various antiplatelet and anticoagulant agents has been shown in randomized trials. Only a few studies were based on radiological characteristics of dissections. An ongoing randomized trial is investigating the role of MES and the efficacy of antiplatelet versus anticoagulation agents. The role of DOAC agents has yet to be determined in clinical trials. Stenting in CeAD is an effective revascularization technique and may be considered in selected patients. However, current data is only based on low evidence level findings from small studies, lacking longitudinal outcomes and prognosis.


Carotid dissection Vertebral dissection Cervical artery dissection Anticoagulation Antiplatelet Endovascular stenting 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neurological InstituteUniversity Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA

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