17-year-old boy dies of rare stroke missed on CT scan

Brain CT scans were not enough to detect basilar artery thrombosis in a fit and healthy U.K. teenager who died several days after the missed diagnosis, according to a recent article from the Independent.

The patient, Ben Littlewood, underwent a brain CT scan at Tameside Hospital soon after his mother found him unconscious and seizing on the kitchen floor. The consultant radiologist who read the initial CT scan, Dr. Shiva Koteeswaran, reported that the scan appeared "completely normal."

It wasn't until Littlewood underwent a follow-up CT scan four days later that the healthcare providers realized he had experienced an ischemic stroke due to basilar artery thrombosis, at which point no realistic treatment options remained.

The radiological error prompted the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) to conduct an inquest into the patient's death. After completing the inquest in early December, the NHS concluded that missing the rare stroke on the initial CT scan was an "error that could have been made by a different radiologist in a different set of circumstances."

Nobody suspected a stroke in the patient, especially because of his young age and otherwise healthy history, consultant neurologist Dr. Christopher Douglass from Salford Royal Hospital said in the article. Twisting the neck too quickly may have caused Littlewood's artery to tear and send a blood clot to his brain, triggering the rare case of ischemic stroke.

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