Treatment of posterior circulation ischemia with extracranial percutaneous balloon angioplasty and stent placement

Adel M. Malek, Randall T. Higashida, Constantine C. Phatouros, Todd E. Lempert, Philip M. Meyers, Daryl R. Gress, Christopher F. Dowd, Van V. Halbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - Vertebrobasilar territory ischemia (VBI) leads to disabling neurological symptoms and poses a risk for stroke by an embolic or flow-related mechanism. We present our clinical experience in the endovascular treatment of patients with symptomatic VBI from severe atherosclerosis or dissection of the vertebral and subclavian arteries that was unresponsive to medical therapy. Methods - Twenty-one patients (9 female, 12 male) with a mean age of 65.7 years (range 47 to 81 years) underwent treatment with percutaneous endovascular balloon angioplasty and stent placement. Sixteen patients (76.2%) had evidence of contralateral involvement, and 9 (42.8%) demonstrated severe anterior-circulation atherosclerosis. Nine patients had a previous infarct in the occipital lobe, cerebellum, or pons before treatment. Follow-up was available for all patients. Results - Balloon angioplasty with intravascular stent placement was performed in 13 vertebral artery lesions (10 at the origin, 3 in the cervical segment) and in 8 subclavian lesions. The prestenting stenosis was 75% (50% to 100%) and was reduced to 4.5% (0% to 20%) after stenting. Six of the patients with proximal subclavian stenosis demonstrated angiographic evidence of subclavian steal, which resolved in all cases after treatment. All patients showed improvement in symptoms after the procedure except for 1 who developed a hemispheric stroke after thrombotic occlusion of an untreated cavernous carotid artery stenosis (rate of major stroke and mortality=4.8%). One patient (4.8%) had a periprocedural transient ischemic attack(TIA), and none had minor stroke. At long-term follow-up (mean=20.7±3.6 months) of the surviving 20 patients, 12(57.1%) remained symptom-free, 4 (19%) had at most 1 TIA over a 3-month period, 2 (9.5%) had at most 1 TIA per month, and 2 (9.5%) had persistent symptoms. There were no clinically evident infarcts during the follow-up period. Conclusions - Endovascular treatment using balloon angioplasty with intravascular stent placement for symptomatic stenotic lesions resulting in VBI that is unresponsive to medical therapy appears to be of benefit in this high-risk subset of patients with poor collateral flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2073-2085
Number of pages13
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Angioplasty
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Balloon
  • Stenosis
  • Stents
  • Subclavian steal syndrome
  • Vertebrobasilar insufficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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