Original Articles| Volume 22, ISSUE 6, P368-375, July 1999

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Effect of premanipulative tests on vertebral artery and internal carotid artery blood flow: A pilot study


      Background: Neck manipulation occasionally causes stroke after trauma to the vertebral or internal carotid artery. Premanipulative tests involving cervical spine rotation or extension have been recommended to detect patients at risk of neurovascular ischemia. However, the effect of these procedures on extracranial blood flow is not well established, and their validity is thus controversial. Objective: To determine the effect of premanipulative tests involving cervical spine rotation or extension on vertebral artery and internal carotid artery blood flow parameters. Design: Two-group experimental study. Subjects: Twenty subjects consisting of 16 patients treated with physiotherapy and four volunteers. Methods: Subjects were tested with a recommended premanipulative protocol by both an independent physiotherapist and an investigator. One group consisted of 10 subjects with signs or symptoms indicative of neurovascular ischemia on premanipulative testing, with 10 subjects with no signs or symptoms indicative of neurovascular ischemia on premanipulative testing comprising the second group. Hemodynamic measurements for both vertebral and both internal carotid arteries were taken by use of duplex Doppler ultrasonography with color-flow imaging with the subjects in the following positions: neutral, end-range extension, 45 degrees contralateral rotation, end-range contralateral rotation, and combined end-range contralateral rotation/extension. Results: The reliability of premanipulative testing was supported. Significant changes in flow velocity of the vertebral artery (and to a lesser extent of the internal carotid artery) were shown in end-range positions involving rotation and extension. No meaningful significant differences were found between the two groups. Conclusions: Screening procedures that use rotation and extension may be useful tests of the adequacy of collateral circulation. A larger study is needed to determine whether subjects testing positive significantly differ from those testing negative. (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999;22:368–75)


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