Transluminal angioplasty for atherosclerotic disease of the vertebral and basilar arteries

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✓ Transluminal angioplasty for hemodynamically significant stenosis (> 70%) involving the posterior cerebral circulation is now being performed by the authors in selected cases. A total of 42 lesions affecting the vertebral or basilar artery have been successfully treated by percutaneous transluminal angioplasty techniques in 41 patients. The lesions involved the proximal vertebral artery in 34 cases, the distal vertebral artery in five, and the basilar artery in three. Patients were examined clinically at 1 to 3 and 6 to 12 months after angioplasty. Three (7.1%) permanent complications occurred, consisting of stroke in two cases and vessel rupture in one. There were four (9.5%) transient complications (< 30 minutes): two cases of vessel spasm and two of cerebral ischemia. Clinical follow-up examination demonstrated improvement of symptoms in 39 cases (92.9%). Radiographic follow-up studies demonstrated three cases (7.1 %) of restenosis involving the proximal vertebral artery; two were treated by repeat angioplasty without complication, and the third is being followed clinically while the patient remains asymptomatic.

In patients with significant atherosclerotic stenosis involving the vertebral or basilar artery territories, transluminal angioplasty may be of significant benefit in alleviating symptoms and improving blood flow to the posterior cerebral circulation.

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