Introduction: The optimal management of patients with symptomatic severe ostial vertebral artery stenosis (OVAS) is currently unclear. We analyzed the long-term outcome of consecutive patients with OVAS who received either medical treatment (MT) or vertebral artery stenting (VAS).
Methods: Thirty-nine (>70%) patients with severe OVAS were followed for a mean period of 2.8 years. The decision for VAS (n = 10) or MT (n = 29) was left to the clinician. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to assess the risk of recurrent stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or death over the study period.
Results: Patients in the VAS group were significantly younger and more likely to have bilateral VA disease (P = 0.04 and P = 0.02). VAS was successfully performed in all ten patients. The periprocedural risk within 30 days was 10% (one TIA). The overall restenosis rate was 10%. One restenosis occurred after 9 months in a patient treated with bare-metal stent. At 4 years of follow-up, VAS showed a nonsignificant trend toward a lower risk for the combined endpoint of TIA and stroke in posterior circulation compared to medical treatment (10% vs. 45%, P = 0.095; relative risk (RR) = 0.24, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.031-1.85). Patients with bilateral VA disease had a significantly lower recurrence risk after VAS compared with medical treatment (0% vs. 91% at 4 years, P = 0.004; RR 0.10, 95% CI 0.022-0.49)
Conclusion: VAS was performed without permanent complications in this small series of patients with symptomatic severe OVAS. The long-term benefit seems to be confined to patients with bilateral but not to those with unilateral VA disease.