A cerebellar infarction is a type of stroke. Strokes result from the loss of neurological function because of an obstruction of blood flow within the brain. A stroke typically is caused by a blood clot lodged within an artery, cutting off oxygen supply. In a cerebellar infarction, the obstruction is located in the cerebellar arteries, affecting the cerebellar hemispheres of the brain. It is uncommon for a stroke to occur in the cerebellum, but it can happen.
Strokes that occur within the cerebellum can be ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are more common and are caused by obstructed arteries. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by arterial hemorrhages. A hemorrhagic cerebellar infarction is a rare occurrence.
The cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem are the chief parts of the brain. Responsible for higher level functioning, the cerebrum is necessary for speech, reasoning and cognitive functions. The brain stem maintains involuntary bodily functions, such as heart rate and respiration. The cerebellum is the area of the brain that is necessary for balance, movement and coordination.
Cerebellar infarction is marked by headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. The most apparent symptoms are problems with walking, maintaining balance and coordination. A person who has been affected by cerebellar infarction might not be able to walk at all or might even go into a coma. The person's hands might tremble as well.
Doctors diagnose strokes by physical examination and testing. Common tests include computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With a CT scan, physicians have the ability to tell whether the stroke is caused by a clot or hemorrhage. A doctors can use an MRI tell whether a stroke has occurred within minutes of happening. Blood tests also are done.
The treatment for cerebellar infarction includes a combination of drugs, surgery and rehabilitation. Stroke patients are administered thrombolytic drugs to dissolve blood clots within their blood vessels. Drugs are given to decrease pressure in the brain and to prevent blood clotting. Rehabilitation involves physical, speech and occupational therapies.
Stroke is a leading cause of death worldwide. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, as do heart disease, smoking and diabetes mellitus. Atrial fibrillation, which is an abnormal heart rhythm causing the blood to pool and clot in the upper chambers of the heart, is another principal risk. A portion of the clot can dislodge, traveling through vessels to the brain and resulting in stroke.
Health experts say that about 25 percent of people who have had a stroke generally regain most of their normal abilities. Most people who die from stroke tend to be older. A person who has had a stroke is at increased risk for subsequent stroke.