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Cerebral vascular disease: Pathology review




Nervous system

Central nervous system disorders
Central and peripheral nervous system disorders
Peripheral nervous system disorders
Autonomic nervous system disorders
Nervous system pathology review

Cerebral vascular disease: Pathology review


1 / 19 complete

USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

19 questions

A 78-year-old right-handed man is brought to the emergency department following sudden-onset weakness in his right arm and inability to speak for twenty four hours. The patient’s daughter states she initially became concerned when he dropped his cup of coffee while walking to the kitchen table last night. The daughter states he has had a similar episode in the past that resolved spontaneously. He has a history of hypertension, for which he takes lisinopril. His temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), pulse is 92/min, and blood pressure is 158/104 mmHg. The patient is alert and visibly frustrated by not being able to speak. Physical examination reveals 2/5 strength in the right upper extremity and 4/5 strength in the right lower extremity. He follows written and verbal commands but is unable to speak or write. MRI of the head demonstrates ischemic changes in the cerebral territory supplied by the left middle cerebral artery. Which of the following histopathological findings are most likely to be observed in this patient’s brain at the present time?


At the emergency department, 30-year-old Lydia presents with severe headache and confusion. Clinical examination reveals low grade fever and nuchal rigidity. Past medical history reveals she has polycystic kidney disease. Non-contrast CT reveals blood between the arachnoid and the pia mater. Lydia is treated supportively and sent home. Three days later she suddenly develops a severe headache, vomiting, and confusion.

Later that day, 70-year-old Amanda presents with left-sided weakness and numbness, with her foot and leg more affected than her arm. She can speak fluently and understands everything being said to her. Past medical history includes hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and a myocardial infarction last year.

Based on their presentation, the diagnosis is that both Lydia and Amanda had a cerebral vascular disease, most often referred to as a stroke. A stroke is when there’s a sudden focal neurological deficit due to a part of the brain losing its blood supply. Now, to safeguard the brain from hypoxia, the brain has a dual circulation called the circle of Willis, divided into an anterior and posterior circulation. The anterior circulation starts in the neck, where th