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Retinal emboli after cervicopetrous junction internal carotid artery pseudoaneurysm stenting



To describe acute and chronic retinal ischemic changes following an internal carotid artery pseudoaneurysm stenting procedure, and to review current evidence for risk factors and management of post-procedural retinal ischemic events.


A 50-year-old man presented with a 3-month history of pulsatile tinnitus, headache, and intermittent blurry vision. A CT angiogram of head and neck showed bilateral cervicopetrous internal carotid artery (ICA) pseudoaneurysms. The patient underwent successful repair with angioplasty and stenting of the flow-limiting high-grade (>95%) stenosis of his left high cervical ICA. On post-operative day 1, the patient reported monocular vision loss with a large central scotoma. He was found to have a central macular area of retinal whitening and multiple areas of perivascular retinal whitening on exam, concerning for retinal artery occlusions secondary to peri-procedural emboli. Dual antiplatelet therapy was started and a stroke evaluation was performed. Two months later, his visual acuity in the affected eye was counting fingers and his left eye fundus examination was notable for multiple areas of scattered hemorrhages, microaneurysms, and retinal exudates in the distribution of prior retinal ischemia. OCT imaging revealed atrophic changes in the left macula. Subsequently, the patient completed stage-2 repair of the left ICA pseudoaneurysm followed by uncomplicated repair of the right ICA. Four months later, his left eye visual acuity and retinal findings remained stable.

Conclusions and importance

Post-procedure retinal emboli and ischemia are important, vision threatening possible ocular complications for patients undergoing carotid vascular and endovascular procedures.

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