Dissecting aneurysms of the basilar artery

Neurosurgery. 1995 Feb;36(2):254-8. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199502000-00003.


Ten patients (six men and four women; mean age, 40 yr) with spontaneous dissection of the basilar artery are reported. Clinically, six were admitted with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and four were admitted with brain stem ischemia. Angiography demonstrated string sign in four patients, pearl reaction in four, double lumen in one, and arterial ectasia with mural retention of contrast medium in one. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed in two patients. Follow-up angiograms or magnetic resonance angiography in six patients showed spontaneous healing in two patients, improvement in two, progression in one, and no change in one. Nine patients were treated medically, and one underwent selective intravascular occlusion of the dissecting aneurysm. One patient died after further SAH, two remain severely disabled, three have residual neurological deficit, and four are in good clinical condition. The most interesting observations in this series include a relatively good course in a substantial number of patients and low further bleeding potential after SAH, the late "globular" evolution, which may be favorable for reconstructive treatment, and the diagnostic value of associated computed tomographic/angiographic findings. Surgical options in basilar dissection are very poor; in some reported cases, wrapping has been tried with disappointing results. In light of the possibility of spontaneous healing or improvement, wrapping should be reserved for only those patients with recurrent SAH or angiographic progression of the dissection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / diagnosis
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / etiology
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / therapy*
  • Basilar Artery* / diagnostic imaging
  • Basilar Artery* / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / complications
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / complications
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome