II. Anatomy

  1. Posterior Circulation
  2. Main Source: Two Vertebral Artery
    1. Vertebral arteries combine to form Basilar Artery
    2. Basilar Artery divides to form posterior cerebral arteries
  3. Function
    1. Supplies Occipital Lobe, inferior Temporal Lobe, Brain Stem and Cerebellum

III. Pathophysiology: Cerebrovascular Accident

  1. Vertebrobasilar obstruction may result in Vision Loss, Vertigo or Brain Stem effects
    1. See Vertebrobasilar CVA
    2. See Posterior Cerebral Artery CVA
    3. See Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery CVA
  2. Basilar Artery obstruction near the Vertebral Artery junction
    1. Results in complete cortical blindness (bilateral Occipital Lobe infarcts)
  3. Basilar Artery obstruction in pons (Locked-In Syndrome)
    1. Complete motor paralysis except preserved diaphragmatic breathing and vertical eye movements
    2. Neurologic function otherwise intact (Awake, alert and lucid with intact cognitive function, and intact Sensation)
  4. Cerebellar artery obstruction
    1. Affects Cerebellum and Brain Stem
  5. Vertebral Artery obstruction
    1. May lack physical findings due to collateral circulation

IV. References

  1. Gilman (1989) Manter and Gatz Essentials of Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology, Davis, p. 216-21
  2. Goldberg (2014) Clinical Neuroanatomy, Medmaster, p. 6-15
  3. Netter (1997) Atlas Human Anatomy, ICON Learning, p. 130-9

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Related Studies

Ontology: Structure of basilar artery (C0004811)

Definition (NCI) An artery formed by the union of the two vertebral arteries at the posterior border of the pons then diverges at the anterior border forming the two superior and two posterior cerebral arteries.
Definition (MSH) The artery formed by the union of the right and left vertebral arteries; it runs from the lower to the upper border of the pons, where it bifurcates into the two posterior cerebral arteries.
Concepts Body Part, Organ, or Organ Component (T023)
MSH D001488
SnomedCT 59011009
English Arteries, Basilar, Artery, Basilar, Basilar Arteries, Basilar Artery, BA - Basilar artery, Arteria basilaris, arteries basilar, basilar arteries, basilar artery, artery basilar, Basilar artery, Structure of basilar artery (body structure), Structure of basilar artery, Basilar artery, NOS, BA
Swedish Basilarartär
Czech arteria basilaris
Finnish Kallonpohjavaltimo
Polish Tętnica podstawna
Norwegian Arteria basilaris, Basilarisarterien
Spanish arteria basilar, estructura de la arteria basilar (estructura corporal), estructura de la arteria basilar, Arteria Basilar
German Arteria basilaris, Schädelbasisarterie
Italian Arteria basilare
Dutch Arteria basilaris
Portuguese Artéria Basilar
French Tronc basilaire, Artère basilaire

Ontology: Structure of vertebral artery (C0042559)

Definition (NCI) The first branch of the subclavian artery that ascends both sides of the neck and merges at the middle line to from the basilar artery at the level of the pons.
Definition (MSH) The first branch of the SUBCLAVIAN ARTERY with distribution to muscles of the NECK; VERTEBRAE; SPINAL CORD; CEREBELLUM; and interior of the CEREBRUM.
Concepts Body Part, Organ, or Organ Component (T023)
MSH D014711
SnomedCT 85234005
English Arteries, Vertebral, Artery, Vertebral, Vertebral Artery, VA - Vertebral artery, Vertebral Arteries, Arteria vertebralis, arteries vertebral, vertebral arteries, artery vertebral, vertebral artery, Vertebral artery, Structure of vertebral artery (body structure), Structure of vertebral artery, Vertebral artery, NOS, VA
Swedish Kotartär
Czech arteria vertebralis, vertebrální artérie
Finnish Nikamavaltimo
French Artères vertébrales, Artère vertébrale
Italian Arterie vertebrali, Arteria vertebrale
Japanese 椎骨動脈
Polish Tętnica kręgowa
Spanish estructura de arteria vertebral (estructura corporal), estructura de arteria vertebral, estructura de la arteria vertebral (estructura corporal), estructura de la arteria vertebral, arteria vertebral, Arteria Vertebral
Norwegian Vertebralarterie, Arteria vertebralis, Virvelarterie
German Arteria vertebralis
Dutch Arteria vertebralis
Portuguese Artéria Vertebral

Ontology: Posterior Circulation Intracranial Artery (C1514258)

Definition (NCI) Any of the arteries that are part of the intracranial posterior circulation.
Concepts Body Part, Organ, or Organ Component (T023)
English Posterior Circulation Intracranial Artery