What is the pathophysiology of 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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Given the anatomy of the posterior circulation and the circle of Willis, the clinical manifestations of basilar artery thrombosis depend on the location of the occlusion, the extent of the thrombus, and the collateral flow. Normally, the blood flows in an anterograde fashion from the vertebral arteries to the basilar artery up to its terminal branches. This pattern of flow may vary.

If the proximal segment of the basilar artery is occluded and the occlusion has resulted from a slowly progressive stenosis, collateralization occurs within the cerebellum into the circumferential branches of the basilar artery. Additionally, flow can be reversed from the PCAs into the distal basilar artery.

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