A Failure to Diagnose a Vertebral Artery Dissection (VAD) Can Lead to a Stroke, Permanent Brain Damage, and Usually Disability or Death to a Child

Certain blood vessels or arteries in your body are major arteries that supply blood and oxygen to your brain. The vertebral and carotid arteries are those main blood vessels. The vertebral arteries are located on each side of your neck. If there is a compromise or lack of blood flow in the vertebral arteries, it can lead to brain damage, a stroke or even death. A vertebral artery can be injured in so many ways and the injury may not present itself until days or weeks later. Healthcare professionals should know this.

A vertebral artery dissection is a flap-like tear in the inner lining of the vertebral artery. Once a tear occurs, blood leaks into the wall of the artery and forms a blood clot or hematoma. Once the blood clot is large enough, it will cut off the blood supply and oxygen to the brain. It is like you are blowing up a balloon in the thin lining of an artery. At first, the balloon is small and will not block off all of the blood supply, but if the balloon continues to get bigger, it will eventually block all blood flow. The lack of blood flow can cause neck pain, head pain, difficulty waking, difficulty speaking, visual loss or blindness, unequal pupils, impaired walking or coordination, impaired swallowing, a stroke or permanent brain damage.

Vertebral artery dissections can occur after any trauma or force to the neck. Vertebral artery dissections can be caused by roller coaster or amusement park rides that jolt the head around, car accidents, kicks to the neck, softballs, baseballs, or hockey pucks hitting the neck, karate kicks, wrestling holds, shoulder seatbelt injuries, chiropractic neck manipulations, strangulations, beauty salon injuries after hyperextension of the neck back into the salon's sink or any other trauma to the neck area.

When there is an injury or trauma to the neck, the person may feel fine after the initial injury and soreness goes away. The reason for that is that the injury to the vertebral artery or vertebral artery dissection can slowly allow the blood to ooze into the lining of the artery and the person may only be exhibiting subtle changes in their behavior. Remember, the balloon is still small, but growing. Since vertebral artery dissections occur frequently in kids, young adults or athletes, those subtle signs often go untreated until it is too late. In any patient that presents with neck pain or subtle neurologic changes, especially children, young adults and athletes, the doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or nurse should be asking the patient if they had any injury to the neck area or engaged in any recent activity that could have damaged the arteries in the neck. Unfortunately, this is not always done.

As a medical professional, I have treated patients who were quickly diagnosed with a vertebral artery dissection and recovered without problems. Sadly though, I have also cared for patients, most of them children, who suffered from the failure to diagnose a vertebral artery dissection until it was too late and they had suffered a stroke, permanent brain damage or even death.

Here at the Philadelphia Beasley medical malpractice law firm, our experienced lawyers, doctors, and nurses have treated and evaluated many cases that involved vertebral artery dissections. Our medical and legal knowledge has led to billions awarded on behalf of our injured clients. We are the law firm that many physicians turn to if they or a family member were a victim of medical negligence. If you, your child, or a family member has suffered from a vertebral artery dissection that led to a disability, stroke, permanent brain damage or death, please feel free to contact us at 1.888.823.5291 for a strictly confidential and free consultation. Your call will not be forwarded to a secretary or paralegal. You will actually talk with one of our experienced attorneys, doctors or nurses.


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