Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Patients With Symptomatic Vertebrobasilar Stenosis Undergoing Surgical Procedures

David J. Blacker, Kelly D. Flemming, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - There is little information to provide an estimate for stroke risk in patients with established stenosis or occlusion in the basilar or intracranial vertebral arteries undergoing surgical procedures. The objective of this study was to determine the ischemic stroke risk in this specific patient population. Methods - A medical records linkage system retrospectively identified patients with a diagnosis of symptomatic vertebrobasilar stenosis or occlusion matched with surgical procedures. Patients were selected if they had stenosis or occlusion of the basilar or intracranial vertebral arteries identified on vascular imaging before undergoing surgical procedures under general anesthesia. Clinical and radiographic features were reviewed, along with the nature of the surgeries and details of the perioperative management. Records were reviewed for the diagnosis of stroke occurring within 1 month of surgery. Results - Thirty-eight patients with a history of symptomatic vertebrobasilar ischemia underwent 50 operations under general anesthesia, and 3 had ischemic strokes in the vertebrobasilar territory immediately after surgery, a per-procedure rate of 6.0% (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 16.6) All 3 had episodes of prolonged hypotension (systolic blood pressure < 100 mm Hg for > 10 minutes) during surgery. Conclusions - The risk of perioperative stroke in patients with vertebrobasilar stenosis undergoing surgery under general anesthesia is 6.0%, which is notably higher than the risk for patients with other patterns of cerebrovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2659-2663
Number of pages5
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Stroke, ischemic
  • Surgery
  • Vertebrobasilar insufficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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