The Need for a Rational Approach to Vasoconstrictive Syndromes: Transcranial Doppler and Calcium Channel Blockade in Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

<bold>Introduction:</bold> Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) typically affects young patients and left untreated can result in hemorrhage or ischemic stroke. Though the disorder has been well characterized in the literature, the most appropriate way to diagnose, treat, and evaluate therapeutic response remains unclear. In previous studies, transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) has shown elevated velocities indicative of vasospasm. This imaging modality is noninvasive and inexpensive; an attractive option for diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring if it is sensitive enough to detect changes in the acute setting given that RCVS often affects the distal vessels early in the course of disease. There is also limited data that calcium channel blockade may be effective in treating vasospasm secondary to RCVS, though the agent of choice, formulation, and dose are unclear. <bold>Methods:</bold> We report a small cohort of seven patients presenting with thunderclap headache whose vascular imaging was consistent with RCVS. All were treated with calcium channel blockade and monitored with TCD performed every 1-2 days. <bold>Results:</bold> On presentation, TCD correlated with standard neuroimaging findings of vasospasm (on MR, CT, and conventional angiography). TCD was also able to detect improvement in velocities in the acute setting that correlated well with initiation of calcium channel blockade. Long-acting verapamil appeared to have the greatest effect on velocities compared to nimodipine and shorter-acting calcium channel blockers. <bold>Conclusion:</bold> Though small, our cohort demonstrates potential utility of TCD to monitor RCVS, and relative superiority of extended-release verapamil over other calcium channel blockers, illustrating the need for larger randomized trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalCase Reports in Neurology
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Calcium channel blocker
  • Infarct
  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • Thunderclap headache
  • Transcranial Doppler ultrasound
  • Vasospasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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