Systematic review of reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome

Ahsan Sattar, Georgios Manousakis, Matthew B. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) is a cerebrovascular disorder associated with multifocal arterial constriction and dilation. RCVS is associated with nonaneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, pregnancy and exposure to certain drugs. The primary clinical manifestation is recurrent sudden-onset and severe ('thunderclap) headaches over 1-3 weeks, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia, confusion and blurred vision. The primary diagnostic dilemma is distinguishing RCVS from primary CNS arteritis. Diagnosis requires demonstration of the characteristic 'string of beads on cerebral angiography with resolution within 1-3 months, although many patients will initially have normal vascular imaging. Many treatments have been reported to ameliorate the headaches of RCVS, but it is unclear whether they prevent hemorrhagic or ischemic complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1417-1421
Number of pages5
JournalExpert review of cardiovascular therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant 1UL1RR025011 from the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), National Institute of Health (NIH). The authors have no other relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript apart from those disclosed.


  • headache
  • reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • stroke
  • systematic review
  • vasospasm


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