Neurosurgical Review

, 32:143 | Cite as

Symptomatic vertebral artery conflicts to the medulla oblongata and microsurgical treatment options: review of the literature

  • Daniel Hänggi
  • Hans-Jakob Steiger


Symptomatic vascular compression of the medulla oblongata causing brainstem dysfunction is extremely rare. Only a few case reports documenting the clinical condition of patients, diagnostic features and therapeutic options are available in literature. The Medline search revealed with the present cases a total of 9 reports on patients with symptomatic vertebral artery compression to the brainstem. Out of these reports the observed symptoms comprise hypertension, hemiparesis, tetraparesis, hemihypaesthesia, pyramidal tract signs, central sleep apnea and vertigo. Moreover an overview of the various suggested and published microsurgical procedures is given. Based on the literature search basically 4 different microsurgical strategies are documented, the vessel mobilization, the vessel section with posterior fossa decompression, the autologous material inlay with posterior fossa decompression and the lateral vessel retraction assisted with Gore-Tex. Vascular compression causing brainstem deficits are particularly unusual in the young population. Two illustrative cases of young men with a symptomatic vertebral artery brainstem conflict who were treated microsurgically with vascular decompression are additionally discussed in the present article. The history, diagnostic features, microsurgical treatment and outcome of these patients are described in detail. As a conclusion these cases demonstrated that careful examination can serve to determine the diagnosis even in the young population microsurgical treated successfully. In conclusion the present review tries to provide an overview of the existent data on the variety of clinical, radiological and surgical features in patients with symptomatic vascular brainstem compression.


Vascular compression Vertebral artery Brainstem dysfunction 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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