A possible correlation between vertebral artery insufficiency and degenerative changes in the cervical spine

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1998;255(9):437-40. doi: 10.1007/s004050050094.


We studied 130 patients, aged 20 to 81 years, with symptoms of tinnitus, vertigo or dizziness. Radiological examinations revealed degenerative changes in the cervical spines of all patients such as discopathy or osteophytes. Head and neck and neurological examinations ruled out other symptoms apart from vertebrobasilar artery flow insufficiency. The vertebrobasilar arteries were examined by means of a color Doppler ultrasonograph using duplex scanning. The correlation coefficient (CC) defining the relationship between the number of patients with abnormal blood flow and the total number of patients with radiologically confirmed changes in the cervical spine was 41.5%. When patients were separated by age, the value of the CC coefficient increased proportionally according to age, changing from 0 to 79.1%. Use of the Doppler ultrasonograph was found to be a safe and non-invasive diagnostic method that enabled us to assess the influence of degenerative changes in the cervical spine on hemodynamic disturbances in the inner ear and brain stem. Our findings demonstrated a pathological decrease of vertebral artery flow velocity in relationship to degenerative changes in the cervical spine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Basilar Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Spinal Diseases / complications
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color
  • Vertebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / etiology
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / physiopathology