Cervical arterial dissection and traumatic myelopathy following yoga: surgical case report

Gautam Nayar, Ansh Desai, Nitin Agarwal, Nima Alan, John J. Moossy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Cervical spondylosis can predispose patients to central canal stenosis. In this setting, myelopathy through further flattening of the cord from extrinsic compression can be precipitated by relatively minor traumas. Arterial dissection is similarly considered a result of high velocity or momentum during trauma, commonly associated with fractures, cervical hyperflexion, or direct blunt force to the neck. Overall, precautions for both arterial dissection and myelopathy are rarely considered in low-velocity, static activities such as yoga. Case presentation: The authors report the case of a 63-year-old man who suffered concurrent cervical myelopathy from multilevel spondylopathy, right vertebral artery dissection, and left cervical carotid artery dissection following a yoga session. Symptomatology consisted of acute onset neck pain, upper extremity sensory paresthesia, worsening gait and balance, and impaired dexterity for several weeks. Cervical MRI was obtained given myelopathic symptoms and revealed spondylosis with compression and T2 signal change at C3–C4. CT angiography of the neck revealed aforementioned dissections without flow limiting stenosis or occlusion. A therapeutic heparin infusion was started preoperatively until the patient underwent C3–C4 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Aspirin and Plavix were then started without incidence and the patient had significant but gradual improvement in myelopathic symptoms at 6-week follow-up. Discussion: The static yet intensive poses associated with yoga present a rare etiology for arterial dissection and myelopathy, but patients with persistent and progressive symptoms should be screened with the appropriate imaging modality. Cervical decompression should be expedited before initiating an antiplatelet medication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalSpinal Cord Series and Cases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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