Cervical Radiculopathy Presenting as Ischemic Stroke After Carotid Artery Stent Placement

Itzhak Brook, Bilaal Sirdar, Andrew Stemer


Abrupt loss of focal brain function is the main characteristic of the beginning of ischemic stroke. However, individuals with disorders other than stroke can also present with similar features. These conditions include seizure disorders, migraine, central nervous system abscess or tumor, head trauma, subdural hematoma, cerebral venous thrombosis, viral encephalitis, conversion reaction, hypertensive encephalopathy, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord disorder. An 82-year-old man presented with a sudden onset of numbness in his left forearm in the distribution of C6 and C7 spinal nerves, 2 days after undergoing endarterectomy and stent placement in his right carotid artery because of stenosis. He was diagnosed with hypo-pharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (T1, L0, M0) 17 years earlier (2006) which was treated with 70 Gy intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). The patient underwent stent insertion into his left carotid artery 3.5 years earlier because of 80% carotid artery stenosis. He was initially suspected to have an ischemic stroke. However, computed tomography angiography of the head and neck did not show stenosis or occlusion of the major intracranial arteries and no aneurysms were identified. It showed interval stenting of the cervical portion of the right carotid artery and stable appearance of left carotid artery stent. Both carotid artery stents and the vertebral arteries were patent. The cervical spine showed bilateral moderate to severe foramen stenosis in C3-C4 and C5-C6, and moderate to severe stenosis in the right C2-C3 and left C4-C5. His symptoms subsided after performing neck extension exercises. This is the first report of a patient whose cervical radiculopathy symptoms were suspected to be caused by ischemic stroke. The recent angioplasty and stent placement in the right carotid artery made the association more likely and had to be excluded. Clinicians should be aware that cervical radiculopathy could present as ischemic stroke. It is therefore important that disorders that cause symptoms similar to ischemic stroke are also considered in these individuals.

J Med Cases. 2023;14(11):387-392
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jmc4162


Cervical radiculopathy; Carotid artery; Stent; Ischemic stroke; Stenosis

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