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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 125-

Calcified vertebral artery and "dense basilar artery sign" in a patient with basilar territory infarction

Sudhir Kumar 
 Neurology Unit, Department of Neurological Sciences, Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore - 632 004, India

Correspondence Address:
Sudhir Kumar
Department of Neurological Sciences, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad - 500 033

How to cite this article:
Kumar S. Calcified vertebral artery and "dense basilar artery sign" in a patient with basilar territory infarction.Neurol India 2005;53:125-125

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Kumar S. Calcified vertebral artery and "dense basilar artery sign" in a patient with basilar territory infarction. Neurol India [serial online] 2005 [cited 2022 Nov 26 ];53:125-125
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Diagnosis of posterior circulation stroke (PCS) may get delayed or missed in patients with atypical signs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), considered to be superior to computerized tomography (CT) in PCS, too is not 100% sensitive, as 20% of patients with PCS may have a negative diffusion-weighted MRI at admission.[1] Moreover, MRI is not universally available and CT is often the initial imaging done. Therefore, it is important to detect findings in CT that are indicative of vertebrobasilar territory atherosclerosis/thrombosis for an early diagnosis.

A 75-year-old man presented with loss of consciousness of one-hour duration. Vital signs were normal. No focal neurological deficits were present. Biochemical tests were suggestive of diabetic ketoacidosis. CT scan of the brain was reported as normal. The patient worsened 12 hours later. Basilar territory infarction was suspected and a repeat CT scan showed extensive infarction involving the right thalamus, midbrain, pons and bilateral cerebellar hemispheres. The initial CT scan was reviewed and a calcified left vertebral artery [Figure:1] and "dense basilar artery sign" [Figure:2] were identified. These findings were in favor of basilar artery thrombosis secondary to an atherosclerotic process.

The problem of underdiagnosis of basilar artery thrombosis has been noted earlier.[2] Our case also highlights that the presence of vertebral artery calcification and "dense basilar artery sign" could be useful indicators for the presence of PCS. In a previous study, a high correlation was observed between vertebral artery calcification on CT and vertebral artery stenosis on cerebral angiography.[3] Similarly, "dense basilar artery" is thought to represent basilar artery thrombosis or embolism and an early sign suggestive of basilar territory infarction.[4]


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2Hulbert D, Gabe S, Potts D, Ball JA, Touquet R. 'Bats below the bridge': is a potentially treatable neurovascular disorder being underdiagnosed in accident and emergency departments? J Accid Emerg Med 1994;11:101-4.
3Katada K, Kanno T, Sano H, Shinomiya Y, Koga S. Calcification of the vertebral artery. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 1983;4:450-3.
4Harrington T, Roche J. The dense basilar artery as a sign of basilar territory infarction. Australas Radiol 1993;37:375-8.