Arteritis and large vessel occlusive strokes in children after COVID-19 infection

Brian Appavu, Doris Deng, Michael Morgan Dowling, Shipra Garg, Tara Mangum, Varina Boerwinkle, Todd Abruzzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We describe 2 previously healthy children who suffered disabling arterial ischemic strokes because of acute intracranial large vessel occlusion within 3 to 4 weeks of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. Both children presented from communities with high COVID-19 case rates in the Southwest United States. An 8-year-old American Indian girl experienced severe iron deficiency anemia requiring blood transfusion and presented with bilateral middle cerebral artery (MCA) distribution strokes 3 weeks later. She underwent emergent mechanical thrombectomy of the left MCA with successful clot retrieval but experienced reocclusion of that artery 5 hours after intervention. She also had evidence of cerebral arteritis on catheter angiography and vessel wall imaging, and clot pathology revealed recently formed, unorganized platelet- and fibrin-rich thrombus with sparse clusters of erythrocytes, degenerated histiocytes, few eosinophils, and rare neutrophils. A 16-year old African American boy demonstrated evidence of arteritis on brain magnetic resonance angiography and serological markers of cardiac and renal injury accompanied by positive lupus anticoagulant antibodies. The children described in this report express clinical features inconsistent with focal cerebral arteriopathy, including elevated markers of systemic inflammation in both bilateral MCA strokes in one case and multiple organ system dysfunction in the other case. Neither patient fulfilled criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, given absence of fever. These cases illustrate that systemic postinfectious arteritis with cerebrovascular involvement may complicate COVID-19 infection in previously healthy school-aged children, and their presentations may overlap but not fulfill criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or focal cerebral arteriopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020023440
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Arteritis and large vessel occlusive strokes in children after COVID-19 infection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this