There are several rare, trauma-related injuries that can affect us. Dissection of the carotid artery is one such trauma that affects the artery that supplies blood to the brain. The following paragraphs shed light on the said phenomenon. Take a look.
The dissection of the carotid artery is basically, an injury inside the artery. A set of arteries does the job of supplying oxygenated blood to the brain and the different parts of the head. Though the arteries span out over a said area, the word ‘carotid’ principally signifies two particular ones, which tend to have a big diameter and supply blood from the heart to the head.
The carotid arteries are crucial components of the circulatory system as they supply precious oxygenated blood to the head. The dissection does not actually significantly hamper any function in the head. However, some symptoms are observed, which may turn painful if measures are not taken.
What Exactly Happens in a Dissection
A spontaneous dissection or the one resulting due to trauma, both have almost the same effects. The spontaneous ones occur naturally, due to some or the other tension in the interior of the artery or by some or the other hereditary causes that include, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, pseudoxanthoma elasticum, fibromuscular dysplasia, and osteogenesis imperfecta.
These diseases which are characterized by hereditary connective tissue disorders, are often argued to be a probable cause. A history of these diseases of the patient or in the family or a history of strokes is commented to be a cause in several cases. Trauma is another significant cause that results in internal dissection. Thus, neck pain several days after the trauma should be treated with caution, and as urgently as possible.
The anatomy of artery is multilayered, i.e, the tissue is present in significantly different layers to support blood circulation. Dissection basically, means a cut. In case of carotid artery dissection, the cut or tear appears inside the artery in the neck portion or surrounding portion. The blood which is boosted by the arterial pressure starts getting in the interior of the artery, into the several layers. This small cut eventually leads to other symptoms of dissection.
The primary symptoms of dissected carotid artery include, intramural hematoma or aneurysmal dilatation. The intramural hematoma is basically, an internal accumulation and swelling that is experienced in the layers of the artery. The aneurysmal dilatation is a sack like swelling of blood. Though these two are internally observed and are painfully felt, the next symptoms appear outside the body.
These symptoms can be divided into two types, namely, ischaemic and non-ischaemic symptoms. The only non-ischaemic symptom that occurs is a simple headache and neck pain. The dissection does not get cured automatically, hence pain experienced will be prolonged and also recurring.
Ischemia or rather Ischaemic means a restriction or reduction of blood supply, which eventually leads to the dysfunction of tissue where the supply has reduced. The Ischaemic signs are more prominent and includes, Homer syndrome, where there is an acute drooping in the upper eyelid and the size of the pupil reduces. The second prominently observed symptom is transient vision loss, and the last one is an ischemic stroke. In case you experience, transient vision loss and mild Homer syndrome, along with neck pain, then rush to the hospital.
Depending upon the intensity of the dissection, there are 4 prominent treatments that are usually implemented. They include, observation, anticoagulation, stent implantation and carotid artery ligation. The simplest dissection treatment is observation, to ensure that the problem does not aggravate further. The observation stage is usually implemented for minor dissection.
An anticoagulation is a medication that prevents the blood from clogging up and helps the blood to free flow or disperse properly. A stent implantation is another way in which the intramural hematoma or aneurysmal dilatation can be cured. A ligation is a carotid artery surgery that is conducted if the dissection is extreme, or out of hand.
The dissection of the carotid artery can be painful and can also become quite grave, if corrective measures are not taken on time. Hence, it is recommended that in case any of the aforementioned causes and symptoms are observed together, then consult a doctor immediately.