Background: There is very limited experience with percutaneous treatment of symptomatic vertebral artery disease. Angioplasty and stenting for vertebral artery stenosis are still evolving and have generally been performed for asymptomatic disease. We performed vertebral artery stenting in 12 patients with vertebrobasilar transient ischemic attacks and present our short- and intermediate-term results.
Methods: A total of 12 lesions affecting the vertebral artery were treated by coronary stent placement. The mean age was 72 +/- 8 years and 83% were males (10 males, 2 females). Baseline characteristics included hypertension (11/12); hypercholesterolemia (8/12); coronary artery disease (8/12); and diabetes (5/12). Mean lesion length was 8.6 +/- 2.7 mm, mean calipered stenosis was 78 +/- 8%, and mean arterial diameter was 4.1 +/- 0.3 mm. All patients were symptomatic, fulfilling our criteria for vertebral artery angioplasty. All patients were followed for at least 6 months after treatment.
Results: All 12 lesions were successfully stented, with a mean residual stenosis of 11 +/- 6%. Clinical follow-up showed resolution or improvement of symptoms in all patients. One patient had symptomatic restenosis seven months after the initial procedure requiring repeat angioplasty.
Conclusions: Stent placement for symptomatic stenosis involving the vertebral artery is safe and effective for alleviating symptoms of vertebrobasilar ischemia. Coronary stents appear to be well suited to treat atherosclerotic lesions of the vertebral artery.