Recovery progress after stroke and vertebral artery dissection

I have been meaning to provide an update on my recovery progress after suffering the vertebral artery dissection and stroke. I had another MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) scan of my head and neck vasculature on January 30th, about eight weeks after the stroke and six weeks after beginning the anticoagulant therapy.

MRA results

The report I received from the radiologist who read/interpreted the MRA images stated that my vertebral artery had an “essentially normal appearing lumen” with no signs of the dissection from before. This is simply amazing to me that the dissected vertebral artery has healed completely.

While I’m overjoyed, I do need to await the consult with my neurologist to discuss the MRA report and determine what happens next in my treatment plan. That appointment is in about 10 days from today. My expectation is that I’ll still need one or more follow-up MRAs to watch for any potential issues with my vertebral arteries or cranial vasculature—just in case—and hopefully I can scale back or discontinue the anticoagulation therapy immediately.

Vertebral artery images: then and now

Below are images of my vertebral artery showing the dissection and narrowing of the lumen ← as compared to the same after six weeks of anticoagulant therapy → showing a return to normal size and function.

Comparison MRAs showing vertebral artery dissection ← and recovery →

 

And, below is the larger image of the latest MRA of the carotid and vertebral arteries with the right side showing signs of recovery.

My follow-up MRA showing recovery of right vertebral artery 8 weeks after dissection.

What now?

My primary doctor has cleared me for any activity I want to do including running, cycling, and other sports with the exception of anything at high altitudes (> 10,000 ft.) or at extreme pressure (scuba diving). I’m slowly getting back into my fitness/training regimen with an eye toward some ultra running goals later this year. With the recurrence possibility of this type of artery dissection and stroke slim to none, I intend to live life fully and demonstrate that exercise truly is the best medicine.

Stroke photos

I wanted to follow-up my last post that detailed my stroke with a few images from the MRI and MRA studies. I intend to build catalogue of these images for comparing these initial images with future ones as my recovery progresses. There are nearly 700 photos of my brain and neck region from just the initial MRI and MRA studies alone!

MRI showing ischemic insult, 09 DEC 2011

MRI showing a stroke
The bright yellow area shows the damaged area that was caused by a loss of blood flow.

MRA showing right vertebral artery dissection, 16 DEC 2011

MRA - right vertebral artery dissection
This MRA image shows the severity of the reduction in blood flow through the right vertebral artery. The larger blood vessels on the right and left are the carotid arteries. There are no signs of trouble anywhere else other than the right vertebral artery.

MRI showing no problems at all, just a wild pattern in my nasal area. 09 DEC 2011

MRI showing a weird/cool pattern
It’s funny how these interesting patterns show up in scans. Looks trippy, eh?