Object. Whether cerebral vasospasm occurs only in surface vessels or also in parenchymal arterioles is debatable. The present study was undertaken to evaluate comprehensively the microvasculature of the brainstem after experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).
Methods. Nine mongrel dogs of either sex, each weighing between 18 and 24 kg, underwent double blood injections spaced 48 hours apart; the injections were infused into the cisterna magna immediately after angiography of the basilar arteries (BAs). Three additional dogs assigned to a control group received no blood injections. The dogs were killed on Day 7. Axial sections obtained from the midpontine region of both control dogs and animals subjected to SAH were evaluated with respect to the morphological characteristics of vessels and neurons, and for ultrastructural changes.
Severe vasospasm occurred in the BAs of all dogs subjected to SAH. Nevertheless, in these animals, the luminal areas and vessel perimeter in parenchymal arterioles, but not in parenchymal venules, were observed to have increased when compared with those of control dogs (p < 0.01, t-test). No corrugation of the internal elastic lamina was observed and smooth-muscle and endothelial cells remained normal at the ultrastructural level in the dogs with SAH.
Conclusions. In this model, vasospasm of the BAs did not extend into the region of the pons to affect the intraparenchymal arterioles. Dilation of the parenchymal arterioles might serve as compensation for reduced blood flow. Thus, no neuronal ischemia or infarction resulted in the pontine region of the brain.