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Keywords:

  • asymptomatic stenosis;
  • posterior circulation stroke;
  • vertebral;
  • vertebral angioplasty;
  • vertebral symptomatic stenosis

Background and purpose:  Comprehensive indications for treatment of symptomatic vertebral stenosis remain unavailable. Even less is known about endovascular treatment of asymptomatic cases. We treated symptomatic and asymptomatic vertebral ostium stenosis with angioplasty and stenting and investigated the long term outcome.

Methods:  Consecutive patients with two different indications were included. Group 1 (G1) had symptomatic >50% stenosis. Group 2 (G2) had asymptomatic >50% stenosis and severe lesions of anterior circulation and were expected to benefit from additional cerebral blood supply.

Results:  Twenty nine vertebral origin stenoses in 28 patients (75% men, mean age 64 ± 9 years) were treated. There were 16 G1 and 13 G2 cases. Technical success rate was 100%. Immediate neurological complications rate was 3.4% (one G1 patient with vertebral TIA due to release of emboli). Two further strokes were seen during follow up (32 ± 24 months): vertebrobasilar stroke in a G2 patient with permeable stent in V1 segment, new ipsilateral V3 occlusion and high-risk cardioembolic source, and carotid stroke in a G1 patient who had had ipsilateral carotid stenting. There were no deaths of any cause. Asymptomatic restenosis was observed in one out of 19 patients from both groups who underwent a follow up angiography.

Conclusions:  Angioplasty and stenting appears to be technically feasible and safe in asymptomatic and symptomatic vertebral stenosis. More studies are needed in order to clarify its role in primary and secondary prevention of vertebrobasilar stroke. High risk anterior circulation lesions should be taken into account as a possible indication in patients with asymptomatic vertebral stenosis.