Vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders

Definition

Vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders are conditions in which blood supply to the back of the brain is disrupted.

Causes

Two vertebral arteries join to form the basilar artery. These are the main blood vessels that provide blood flow to the back of the brain.

The areas in the back of the brain that receive blood from these arteries are needed to keep a person alive. These areas control breathing, heart rate, swallowing, vision, movement, and posture or balance. All of the nervous system signals that connect the brain to the rest of the body pass through the back of the brain.

Many different conditions may reduce or stop blood flow in the back part of the brain. The most common risk factors are smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a high cholesterol level. These are similar to the risk factors for any stroke.

Other causes include:

Symptoms

Common symptoms may include:

Other symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

You may have the following tests, depending on the cause:

Treatment

Vertebrobasilar symptoms that start suddenly are a medical emergency that need to be treated right away. Treatment is similar to that for stroke.

To treat and prevent the condition, your health care provider may recommend:

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook depends on:

Each person has a different recovery time and need for long-term care. Problems with moving, thinking, and talking often improve in the first weeks or months. Some people will keep improving for months or years.

Possible Complications

Complications of vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders are stroke and its complications. These include:

Complications caused by medicines or surgery may also occur.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 or your local emergency number, or get to the emergency room if you have any symptoms of a vertebrobasilar circulatory disorder.


Review Date: 7/29/2018
Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.