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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2021 Jan 22

DOI: 10.23736/S0390-5616.20.05093-6

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Intervention for symptomatic vertebrobasilar disease

Richard BRAM, Alfred P. SEE, Sepideh AMIN-HANJANI

Neuropsychiatric Institute, Department of Neurosurgery University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA


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Disease of the vertebral (VA) and basilar arteries (BA) can lead to stroke of the posterior circulation, and may warrant management strategies which differ from the anterior circulation. The mechanism and location of the disease determine its natural history and therefore affect the relative risks and benefits of the possible treatment options. Vertebrobasilar (VB) atherosclerotic disease is a source of both hemodynamic and embolic posterior circulation stroke. Advances in medical therapy have decreased the rate of stroke after initial symptomatic presentation. Antiplatelet therapy, blood pressure control, and optimization of secondary risk factors can reduce recurrent stroke risk in both intracranial and extracranial VB disease. However, symptomatic intracranial disease is still associated with a high risk of subsequent stroke, particularly those with hemodynamic compromise who represent a higher risk population. Patients with hemodynamic impairment may benefit from judicious application of endovascular and microsurgical interventions to augment blood flow. Stenting, angioplasty alone, bypass surgery, and endarterectomy, represent endovascular and surgical tools available to address medically refractory VB disease. Apart from atherosclerotic disease, dissection is another etiology of VB stroke, most frequently affecting the extracranial VA. Treatment is predominantly anti-thrombotic therapy although surgical or endovascular intervention can be required in rare cases of persistent embolism or hemodynamic compromise. In contrast, extrinsic compromise of the VA represents a separate extracranial pathology, and is best treated with mechanistically-targeted surgeries or extracranial bypass.


KEY WORDS: Atherosclerosis; Vertebral artery; Basilar artery; Hemodynamics; Stroke

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