Neurovascular complications of Marfan syndrome: A retrospective, hospital-based study

Robert J. Wityk, Carla Zanferrari, Stephen Oppenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - Small case series have associated Marfan syndrome with cerebral and spinal ischemia or hemorrhage. However, there has been no investigation of the frequency and etiology of neurovascular disorders in a large series of Marfan patients. Methods - We conducted a retrospective, hospital-based study of all Marfan syndrome patients seen in an 8-year period. Records were reviewed in detail, and clinical characteristics of those with and without a neurovascular diagnosis compared. Results - Of 513 patients, 18 (3.5%) had a neurovascular diagnosis, as follows: transient ischemic attack (11), cerebral infarction (2), spinal cord infarction (2), subdural hematoma (2), and spinal subarachnoid hemorrhage (1). A cardioembolic source was identified in 12 of 13 patients with cerebral ischemia, as follows: prosthetic heart valves (9), mitral valve prolapse (2), and atrial fibrillation (1). Chronic anticoagulant therapy was a likely cause in 2 of 3 patients with hemorrhagic events. Compared with other Marfan syndrome patients, those with neurovascular events were older (39.6 versus 31.7 years, P=0.04) and more likely to be in atrial fibrillation (22.2% versus 3.2%, P=<0.01), to have prosthetic heart valves (61.1% versus 7.7%, P=0.001), and to be taking anticoagulant therapy (72.2% versus 16.1%, P<0.001). Aortic disease, a putative factor in the etiology of neurovascular complications, was present in equal measure in Marfan patients with and without neurovascular complications (78% versus 65%, P=NS). Conclusions - Neurovascular complications of Marfan syndrome are rare during 8 years of follow-up, and generally are ischemic in nature. A high-risk cardiac source was identified in the majority. A significant association with vascular dissection was not established.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)680-684
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral ischemia, transient
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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