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12 April 2009

What is vertebrobasilar insufficiency


Vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI), or vertebral basilar ischemia, refers to a temporary set of symptoms due to decreased blood flow in the posterior circulation of the brain. The posterior circulation supplies blood to the medulla, cerebellum, pons, midbrain, thalamus, and occipital cortex (responsible for vision). Therefore, the symptoms due to VBI vary according to which portions of the brain experience significantly decreased blood flow (see image of brain. In the United States, 25% of strokes and transient ischemic attacks occur in the vertebrobasilar distribution. These must be separated from strokes arising from the anterior circulation, which involves the carotid arteries.

Symptoms of vertebrobasilar insufficiency:

  • Loss of vision, particularly affecting same part of the visual field on both eyes
  • Double vision
  • Vertigo (sensation of things spinning around)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Problems with balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Headache
  • Neckache
  • Loss of hearing
  • Slurred speech

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