Potential role of the anterior spinal artery in preventing propagation of thrombus in a therapeutically occluded vertebral artery: angiographic studies before and after endovascular treatment
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Therapeutic occlusion of the vertebral artery (VA) is one of the treatments for unclippable aneurysms and other lesions, although controversy still surrounds the appropriate site for occlusion to attain selective thrombosis of the lesion while avoiding ischaemic complications. The lower two-thirds of the lateral medulla are supplied by perforating branches of both the VA and the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA). However, in patients without a PICA or in whom the origin of the PICA is low (at or below the foramen magnum), the VA is usually the only source of perforating vessels. We retrospectively studied the results of VA occlusion on such anatomically high-risk patients, and propose a safer procedure. Five high-risk patients underwent therapeutic occlusion of the VA for dissecting aneurysms or arteriovenous fistula. A lateral medullary syndrome developed due to propagation of thrombus after the procedure in two patients in whom angiography did not demonstrate the anterior spinal artery (ASA) within the stump of the VA. Ischaemic signs did not develop in the other three patients, in whom the ASA was visible, and retrograde flow was observed proximal to the origin of the ASA. This suggests that the ASA may play a role in preventing propagation of thrombus in the VA distal to the site of occlusion and supply blood to its perforating arteries in high-risk patients. Angiographic assessment of the ASA may be useful for predicting the likelihood of the lateral medullary syndrome developing with therapeutic occlusion of the VA in patients without a PICA or with one whose origin is low.
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