Vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders are conditions in which blood supply to the back of the brain is disrupted.
Vertebrobasilar insufficiency; Posterior circulation ischemia
The vertebrobasilar system is also called the back (posterior) circulation of the brain. This part of the brain contains structures that are crucial for keeping a person alive. For instance, the brainstem controls breathing and swallowing, among other things. Parts of the brain help with vision (occipital lobes) and movement coordination (cerebellum) are also located in the back of the brain.
Three main blood vessels provide blood flow to the back of the brain:
Vertebrobasilar vascular disorders may also be caused by a tear (dissection) in an artery wall. Dissection can be caused by clogged arteries or injuries such as a car accident. However, most of the time, no apparent cause of dissection can be identified.
Other less common causes of vertebrobasilar vascular disorders include connective tissue diseases and vasculitis.
Symptoms of strokes due to vertebrobasilar disorders may include:
Tests depend on the possible underlying cause, but may include:
Sudden onset of vertebrobasilar symptoms is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. For treatment information, see:
Treatment options may include:
There is no good surgical treatment for patients who have narrowing of the vertebrobasilar arteries.
The outlook depends in part on the underlying cause. Strokes are potentially life threatening, and require urgent medical care. Age and the person's overall health are taken into consideration when determining one's outlook for recovery. A substantial recovery can be expected in younger patients who have no significant medical problems.
Recovery also depends on the area of the brain that has been affected. The outlook is very poor when the patient is in a coma or cannot move both arms and legs.
Complications of vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders are stroke and its complications. The complications of stroke include:
Patients may have vision loss in one eye.
Complications caused by medications or surgery may also occur.
Call 911 or your local emergency number, or get to the emergency room if you have any symptoms that may suggest a vertebrobasilar circulatory disorder.
You can reduce your risk of stroke due to atherosclerosis by:
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