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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Dysphagia as the Predominant Symptom in Posterior Circulation Stroke: A Case Report

Challenging differential diagnosis, Management of emergency care

Kyle T. Herout, Edward J. Durant, Jonathan Fong

USA Department of Clinical Science, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Bradenton, FL, USA

Am J Case Rep 2021; 22:e930502

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.930502

Available online: 2021-04-13

Published: 2021-05-18


BACKGROUND: Cerebrovascular disease is a common reason for presentation to the emergency department (ED). Posterior circulation strokes can be diagnostically challenging because the presenting symptoms are often subtle or non-focal and can be missed by commonly used stroke scales. This case report describes a patient who presented to the ED with symptoms of progressive dizziness over a 12-h period, which was followed by the rapid onset of an inability to swallow and, at the time of his presentation, no other neurologic deficits.
CASE REPORT: The patient was a 55-year-old man with a history of diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tobacco and electronic cigarette use, and aortic atherosclerosis who presented to the ED for evaluation of his inability to swallow. His National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score was zero. Non-contrast brain magnetic resonance imaging showed multiple foci of acute infarction in the left dorsolateral medulla and left cerebellar hemisphere in the posterior inferior cerebellar artery distribution. In the hospital, the patient developed an inability to stand, without loss of balance. Persistent dysphagia and inability to swallow necessitated the placement of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube.
CONCLUSIONS: This case describes a relatively rare type of posterior circulation stroke. In addition to traditional risk factors, this patient had risk factors, such as electronic cigarette use, for which there is limited emerging evidence of association with stroke.

Keywords: brain infarction, Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Stroke