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Vascular Surgery

Vertebral Artery Damage

03/05/2010

Question:

I had an accident about four months ago and fell out of a tree. I fractured my C2 vertebrae, had ligament damage, and damage to my vertebral artery. I have been in a halo brace for three month now and will be for another two month because of the damage to the vertebral artery. My doctor is afraid that I could have a stroke but says that I do need to fuse the vertebrae. I`am also taking blood thinners. My question is if this artery does not begin to heal what will happen?

Answer:

A halo is for fractured vertebrae, not for vertebral artery injuries. You probably had a vertebral artery dissection (?) which will heal on its own and only requires intervention if it is symptomatic when it first happens. It could be followed with a duplex exam. Stabilizing the vertebrae is to prevent injury to the spinal cord.

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Response by:

Jean  E Starr, MD Jean E Starr, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Vascular Surgery
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University