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Cervical Artery Dissections and Ischemic Strokes Associated with Vascular Neck Compression Techniques (Sportive Chokes)

      Abstract

      Background

      Strangulation as a fight-finishing maneuver in combat sports, termed “choking” in that context, occurs worldwide millions of times yearly. This activity can be trained safely, but devastating injuries can occur.

      Objective

      Our aim was to present a case series of cervical artery dissections and ischemic strokes associated with sportive choking. Sharing these cases is meant to draw awareness, to assist emergency physicians in caring for these athletes, and to provide a platform for further research.

      Methods

      Institutional Review Board approval was obtained. Participants consented for medical information transfer and anonymous academic reproduction. The minimum medical record information necessary for inclusion was a report of diagnosis-confirming advanced imaging. Participants were contacted for primary information in addition to what the medical records could provide and to confirm some information in the record (e.g., pertinent medical history, demographic characteristics, choking event description, medical care, and commentary on their current health). Medical records and additional first-hand information were reviewed and participants were included if they had a diagnosed dissection or stroke likely associated with a sportive choke.

      Results

      Ten cases met all criteria for inclusion. There were 5 cases of carotid artery dissection, 3 cases of vertebral artery dissection, and 2 cases of ischemic stroke without dissection. Nine of 10 participants survived and 3 of 10 have returned to submission grappling training.

      Conclusions

      Cervical artery dissections and ischemic strokes can occur in association with sportive choking. Emergency physicians must be aware of the widespread nature of this activity and must be vigilant in approaching management of patients with symptoms consistent with these injuries.

      Keywords

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