Mazda Farshad, José Miguel Spirig, Marco D. Burkhard

December 2022, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp 3696 - 3702 Case Report Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06906-0

First Online: 25 June 2021


Anomalous vertebral artery (VA) with loop formation is a rare cause of cervical nerve root compression. Various techniques with anterior and posterior approaches have been described for surgical treatment once conservative treatments fail. We herein present a case treated with the new technique of anterior release, distraction and fusion (ARDF) and further provide an updated review of surgically managed VA loops in the subaxial spine.

Case description

A 76-year-old female complained of a 6-year history of pulsating, shooting pain in her right arm to the thumb. After obtaining repeated MRI, the VA loop compressing the right-sided C6-nerve root was detected. A neurovascular decompression through ARDF which led to an indirect loop straightening was performed. The patient immediately improved after surgery and remained pain-free 1 year postoperative.


Neural irritation due to VA loop formation is a rare cause of cervical radiculopathy. While various surgical strategies have been described, we believe that anterior and anterolateral approaches are the safest to yield neurovascular decompression. We described and documented ARDF (anterior VA release, intervertebral distraction and fusion) on a patient case.

Level of evidence

II (Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with consistently applied reference standard and blinding).

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