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What are the treatments for vertebral artery dissections?

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Treatments for vertebral artery dissections include giving the patient blood thinners, according to Park et al, writing in the Journal of the Korean Neurosurgical Society. This takes the form of intravenous heparin and warfarin, taken orally. Surgery is also used to reconstruct vertebral artery dissections or simply closing off the damaged artery.

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Though physicians give their patients heparin and warfarin despite their symptoms, there are some conditions where these blood thinners should not be used, according to Park et al. They include aneurysms in the brain and bleeding in the area of the stroke. Also, because blood thinners come with their own risks, some doctors give their patients antiplatelet drugs exclusively.

Once the patient begins the course of blood thinners, the doctor examines him through a magnetic resonance angiogram after about three months, claims Park et al. If the dissection isn't healed, the physician keeps the patient on blood thinners for three additional months. The physician repeats the MRA, and if the patient still isn't healed, he is switched to antiplatelet medications.

Physicians also treat vertebral artery dissections with endovascular therapy, according to Park et al. It has come to replace surgery after antiplatelet and blood thinners have not worked. These therapies include dissecting the parent artery to lower the risk of rebleeding, introducing a stent into the brain and endovascular trapping.

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