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March 1995

Cerebral Microembolism in Patients With Sneddon's Syndrome

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology (Drs Sitzer, Siebler, Rademacher, and Steinmetz); Hematology, Oncology, and Clinical Immunology (Dr Söhngen); Rheumatology and Endocrinology (Dr Specker); Cardiology, Pneumology, and Angiology (Dr Janda); and Institute for Diagnostic Radiology (Dr Aulich), Heinrich-Heine-University, Dusseldorf, Germany.

Arch Neurol. 1995;52(3):271-275. doi:10.1001/archneur.1995.00540270063020

Background:  The pathogenesis of Sneddon's syndrome is unclear. This study addresses the question whether cerebral thromboembolism may be involved in the pathogenesis of the neurologic complications of the disorder. The study consisted of 13 patients with Sneddon's syndrome defined by both generalized livedo reticularis and a history of one or more cerebrovascular ischemic events; none had clinical or Doppler ultrasonographic evidence of atherosclerosis.

Methods:  Transcranial Doppler microembolic monitoring of the middle cerebral artery; blood screening for antiphospholipid antibodies (lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin antibodies).

Results:  Five patients (38%) showed clinically silent microembolism at transcranial Doppler monitoring, with individual microembolic event rates of the middle cerebral artery between 2 per hour and 33 per hour. In this group, the time since the last ischemic symptom was significantly shorter than in the eight patients without microemboli. Antiphospholipid antibodies were detected in three patients (23%), all of whom belonged to the microemboli-positive group.

Conclusions:  These data suggest that the detectability of both clinically silent cerebral microembolism and antiphospholipid antibodies may provide paraclinical evidence of active disease in patients with Sneddon's syndrome. The results support the notion that an immune-mediated prothrombotic state facilitating the formation of arterial thrombi with subsequent cerebral embolization, and/or triggering in situ thrombosis of cerebral vessels, plays a pathogenetic role in the neurologic manifestations of this disorder.