Most of the major extracranial arteries have vasa vasorum which play an important role in some pathological conditions. However, in the intracranial arteries, the existence of vasa vasorum and their pathological implication have not been adequately investigated. We examined the distribution and incidence of vasa vasorum in the major cerebral arteries and their relationships to certain clinical factors in 50 autopsy cases performed between 1987 and 1994. By light microscopy, vasa vasorum were found in 36 of 50 patients. Of 36 patients, vasa vasorum in 30 cases were localizedly observed in the tunica adventitia and the in other 6 were distributed in the tunica media accompanied by intramural haemorrhage. Existence of vasa vasorum was more common in the proximal arteries (vertebral, internal carotid, and basilar arteries) than in the distal arteries (middle cerebral and anterior cerebral arteries). Vasa vasorum were found more frequently in aged patients with severe atherosclerosis and those with cerebrovascular diseases. Our results indicated that intracranial vasa vasorum existed with a higher frequency in the tunica adventitia of the vertebral and internal cerebral arteries, and the incidence of vasa vasorum related to severity of atherosclerosis. The development of vasa vasorum in the tunica media may reflect some pathological changes of cerebral arteries.
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