What is basilar artery thrombosis?

Updated: Jan 11, 2019
  • Author: Salvador Cruz-Flores, MD, MPH, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, FACP, FANA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Acute basilar artery thrombosis is associated with a poor prognosis. [1] However, the advent of high-quality, reliable, and noninvasive technology (eg, magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) has made its diagnosis possible even in subjects with mild symptoms (see the image below). This has illustrated that some patients have an acute partial occlusion or a slow progressive occlusion with limited ischemic injury and, therefore, a better prognosis. (See Etiology and Workup.)

Diffusion-weighted MRI images showing a right cere Diffusion-weighted MRI images showing a right cerebellar infarct.

Although outcomes continue to be poor in patients with basilar artery thrombosis, advances in pharmacologic and mechanical thrombolysis and in endovascular therapy may reduce the mortality and disability rates associated with this disease. (See Prognosis, Treatment, and Medication.)

Vertigo is one of several common presenting symptoms associated with basilar artery occlusion. See Vertigo: 5 Case-Based Diagnostic Puzzles, a Critical Images slideshow, to help recognize diagnostic clues in vertigo cases.

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