The artery of Percheron is an uncommon anatomic variant which supplies the bilateral paramedian thalami and rostral midbrain. While infarction of its vascular territory can result in a wide range of symptoms, paramedian thalamic syndrome is classically described as a triad of symptoms including vertical gaze disturbances, fluctuating level of consciousness, and amnesia. There is minimal evidence to date to characterize the long-term cognitive consequences of infarction of the artery of Percheron utilizing neuropsychological assessment.
We describe a 40-year-old female patient initially presenting with dizziness, confusion and falls with unremarkable head CT scans. Subsequent MRI, more than 24 h after symptom onset, identified evidence of bilateral thalamic and rostral midbrain infarction. Neuropsychological testing was administered at 4 months post-stroke, with follow up testing at 1 year. The patient was found to have profound anterograde and retrograde amnesia, which did not change significantly over the first year of rehabilitation, and which was not easily identifiable in everyday encounters due to her relatively intact working memory and social skills.
As early diagnosis of infarction of the artery of Percheron is challenging, patients have frequently missed the time window for acute management of ischemic stroke. Moreover, this case study highlights the need for further research in deciphering the role of the paramedian thalamus in memory and cognition, as well as the importance of standardized neuropsychological testing for the artery of Percheron stroke patients to identify safety and rehabilitation concerns that may be overlooked.