Background: The artery of Percheron (AOP) is a single thalamoperforating arterial trunk that provides bilateral supply to the paramedian thalami and the rostral midbrain. As this rare anatomical variant artery may be involved in endovascular procedures or encountered surgically during basilar terminus aneurysms, the present study was warranted.
Method: Thirty-four adult (20 male and 14 female) formalin-fixed cadaveric brains underwent dissection of the 68 posterior cerebral arteries. Observations were made of the presence and the variations of the thalamoperforating arteries as well as the presence of the AOP.
Findings: Thalamoperforating arteries arose from the superior or posterior surfaces of the P1 segment at a mean of a 1.87 mm (range, 0.39-5.25 mm) distance from the basilar apex and entered the brain through the posterior perforated substance. The average number was 4.25 (range 1-9), and the mean diameter was 0.73 mm (range 0.46-1.16 mm). Thalamoperforating arteries were classified into four different types according to their origin at the P1 segment: type I (bilateral multiple, n = 19), 55.8 %; type II (unilateral multiple, unilateral single, n = 4), 11.7 %; type III (bilateral single, n = 7), 20.5 %; type IV [one side with a single branch, the other side with no branches (the AOP), n = 4], 11.7 %. In three separate specimens with ruptured basilar artery aneurysms, the origin of the thalamoperforating arteries was incorporated not only into the posterior aspect of the aneurysm neck but also into the fundus.
Conclusions: In about one tenth of cases the possibility of the presence of a single arterial trunk that supplies the two paramedian thalamic territories should be taken into consideration during treatment planning of basilar terminus aneurysms. Furthermore, our data show that the thalamoperforating arteries may take off from both the aneurysm neck and the fundus.