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December 1963

Vertebral Artery Insufficiency

Author Affiliations

Attending Staff (Dr. Wagner) and Surgical Resident (Dr. Kitzerow), Milwaukee County General Hospital; Junior Student, Marquette University School of Medicine (Mr. Taitel).; From the Department of Surgery, Marquette University School of Medicine.

Arch Surg. 1963;87(6):885-886. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1963.01310180001001

The postoperative complications peculiar to thyroidectomy are crisis, bleeding, inadequate airway, and tetany. The one being reported is another consideration, namely, vertebral artery insufficiency.

Powers1 records four principal complexes that characterize the clinical features of vertebral artery insufficiency. These are (1) cochlear-vestibular symptoms, including vertigo, tinnitus, and nerve deafness; (2) vascular headache, usually unilateral and pounding in character with or without an aura and frequently associated with blackout spells; (3) visual symptoms of the perceptive type including diplopia, visual claudication, and transient bilateral field defects; and, finally, (4) numbness and paresthesia of the arms. The case being presented fits into Power's second category.

Report of Case  The patient was a 54-year-old white male, admitted to the Milwaukee County General Hospital in June, 1962, because of an episode of transient headache, lightheadedness, and near syncope occurring spontaneously while sitting. Similar episodes had occurred in the past, associated principally with turning