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Hyperdense basilar artery sign diagnoses acute posterior circulation stroke and predicts short-term outcome



It is well established that the hyperdense middle cerebral artery sign is a specific marker for early ischemia in anterior circulation. However, little is known about the hyperdense basilar artery sign (HDBA) in posterior circulation. Our aim was to determine whether the HDBA sign has utility in early diagnosis of acute posterior circulation stroke and prediction of short-term outcome.


Three-blinded readers examined unenhanced computed tomography scans for the HDBA sign, and materials were classified into two groups according to this sign. Vascular risk factors, admission and discharge National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores, short-term outcome, and radiological findings between the two groups were compared.


One hundred and twenty-six cases of acute posterior circulation stroke (PCS) were included in the study. No statistically significant differences were found in risk factors of ischemic stroke, except atrial fibrillation (P = 0.025). Admission and discharge NIHSS scores for the positive HDBA group were significantly higher than scores for the negative HDBA group (P = 0.001, 0.002, respectively). The infarction territory for the positive HDBA group was mainly multi-region in nature (51.6%, P < 0.001), while the negative HDBA group showed mainly middle territory infarction. Significant independent predictors of short-term outcome included the HDBA sign (P < 0.001) and admission NIHSS scores (P < 0.001).


Approximately half of the HDBA patients showed multi-region infarction and a serious neurological symptom. Based on our results, this sign might not only be helpful in early diagnosis of acute PCS but also be able to correlate with a poor short-term outcome.

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We thank Professor ZHENG Dong-ming and American Journal Experts (AJE) for their invaluable assistance in English language editing.

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We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Yang Guo.

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Tan, X., Guo, Y. Hyperdense basilar artery sign diagnoses acute posterior circulation stroke and predicts short-term outcome. Neuroradiology 52, 1071–1078 (2010).

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  • Hyperdense basilar artery sign (HDBA)
  • Prognosis
  • Computed tomography
  • Acute posterior circulation stroke (PCS)