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Pediatric and Adolescent Stroke

When blood vessels in the brain break or become blocked, an individual may suffer a stroke. Strokes occurring in children and adolescents typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Arterial Ischemic Stroke (AIS) in which an artery or arteries in the brain are blocked, often by a blood clot. This is the most common type of stroke in pediatric and adolescent patients.
  • Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis (CSVT) is a type of ischemic stroke in which blood clots prevent veins in the brain from draining blood into larger areas known as the venous sinuses.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke (HS) occurs when blood leaks into brain tissue (intracerebral hemorrhage), the fluid-filled spaces surrounding the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage), or the ventricles (intraventricular hemorrhage).
 

Causes of Pediatric and Adolescent Stroke

The exact causes of stroke in children and adolescents are not well-defined. However, certain conditions and diseases can bring on strokes including:

  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Blood clotting disorders, such as hemophilia
  • Heart disease and congenital heart defects
  • Head and/or neck trauma
  • Moyamoya disease
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Drug abuse

Pediatric and Adolescent Stroke Symptoms

Symptoms of stroke in children and adolescents may occur suddenly and often will increase in severity over time. The most common symptoms include:

  • Weakness or numbness of face or arm or leg, on one side of the body
  • Difficulty moving or walking
  • Slurred speech and difficulty and/or inability to speak or understand others
  • Headache, often with double vision and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures, especially occurring on one side of the body.

Pediatric and Adolescent Stroke Diagnosis

The physicians at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital can diagnose a pediatric/adolescent stroke using a variety of methods and tests, including:

  • Medical history
  • Physical and neurological examination
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with radiocontrast

Treatment Options for Pediatric and Adolescent Stroke

Children and adolescents presenting with stroke require immediate medical attention. Treatments vary depending on the cause of the stroke but may include:

  • Anti-coagulant medication
  • Anti-platelet medication
  • Thrombolysis (catheterization to remove the clot)
  • Surgery