Thrombus in vertebrobasilar dolichoectatic artery treated with intravenous urokinase

Cerebrovasc Dis. 1999 Jan-Feb;9(1):28-33. doi: 10.1159/000015892.


Background: Vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia is often found in patients with posterior circulation ischemia. Brain ischemia is caused by abnormal flow in the dilated artery and obstruction of paramedian arteries or intraluminal thrombus with artery-to-artery embolism. We report a patient with vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia and luminal thrombus treated with intravenous urokinase who did well but died 2 months later of subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Case description: A 60-year-old man developed right-hand clumsiness, dysarthria and ataxia. Computed tomography showed vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia and thrombus in the basilar artery. Symptoms quickly resolved on heparin but recurred on warfarin and again resolved on heparin. Two weeks later, while on warfarin and aspirin 325 mg, he developed hand numbness, oscillopsia and ataxia. Symptoms again resolved on heparin. Angiography showed severe dolichoectasia of the distal right vertebral artery and basilar artery. A large mural thrombus was detected in the ventral part of the distal basilar artery narrowing the lumen by 50%. He was treated with intravenous urokinase 4,400 units/kg as a bolus followed by 4,400 units/kg/h for 12 h. Repeat angiography showed almost complete recanalization and improved filling of basilar artery branches. He was maintained on warfarin and aspirin 81 mg and had no further ischemic episodes. He died 2 months later of rupture of the basilar artery and subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Conclusion: Some patients with thrombosis of vertebrobasilar dolichoectactic arteries continue to have ischemic symptoms despite adequate anticoagulation. Intravenous thrombolysis may be effective in reducing the risk of stroke, but the risk/benefit ratio needs to be assessed in each patient.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Malformations / complications*
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Basilar Artery / abnormalities*
  • Basilar Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / complications
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use*
  • Vertebral Artery / abnormalities*
  • Vertebral Artery / diagnostic imaging


  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator