Basilar Artery Occlusion: Clinical Management and Therapy

Marco Sparaco



Basilar artery occlusion is a potentially life-threatening subset of the larger category of posterior circulation strokes, carrying > 80% fatality rate without treatment. This condition accounts for about 1% to 4% of all ischemic strokes and is generally related to local atherothrombosis or cardioembolism.

Diagnosis can be challenging because presenting symptoms are often non focal, such as headache, dizziness, and vertigo. The onset of the symptomatology can be abrupt without preceding events, abrupt with prodromal symptoms, or progressive and stuttering. Finally, the severity of clinical presentation may range from isolated cranial nerve palsies to tetraplegia, locked-in state, or coma.

If basilar artery occlusion is readily recognized and confirmed with the aid of neuroimaging, intravenous thrombolysis or endovascular treatment can be undertaken immediately in order to recanalize the occluded artery and thus reduce mortality and improve outcome.


Stroke; Basilar artery occlusion; Headache disorders; Magnetic resonance image; Thrombolysis.

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