Basilar artery is a common name for a group of arteries that supply blood to your brain from the heart. These arteries are located at the base of your skull and run through the center of your brain. They form part of the cranial nerves which carry sensory information to various parts of your body.
Basilar artery is a major source of blood flow to the brain. It supplies approximately 90% of the blood flowing into the brain. The other 10% comes from veins and arterioles (arteries supplying extra-capillary fluid). Basilar artery is one of the most common causes of cerebral aneurysms. In fact, it accounts for half of all strokes in adults aged 15 years or older.
The Basilar artery is located just above the front of the head. It runs along the top of your head, between your ears and under your jaw. It joins with another artery called the carotid artery at its junction point. The two arteries branch off from each other near their junctions and then join again at a second junction point known as the cusps. One of these cusps is located in the center of your brain (known as the internal carotid artery).
The other is found at the neck, where it helps to form the beginning of the voicebox (larynx). Just like the basilar artery, it branches out into two main sections known as the internal and external carotid arteries.
Atherosclerosis or “hardening” of the arteries is a common cause of a basilar artery stroke. This process involves a thickening of the artery walls due to a buildup of plaque. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, and other waste materials that stick to the inside of your arteries. It can often harden and narrow your arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow through them. This can limit the blood supply reaching your brain.
Strokes are a common occurrence amongst basilar artery aneurysm patients. This is because basilar artery aneurysms are weak spots in your blood vessels that have an abnormal bulge and are prone to bursting. Most people who suffer a basilar artery aneurysm usually experience a severe headache immediately beforehand. After the aneurysm has burst, there may also be temporary symptoms such as paralysis, speech impediments, or a sudden loss of vision in one eye.
If you think you or someone you know is suffering from a basilar artery aneurysm, it is very important to call for immediate medical attention. It is vital to call an ambulance immediately if you notice any sudden and unusual headaches that are severe and debilitating. There are immediate tests that can be done to confirm if a basilar artery aneurysm is the cause of the condition.
The outlook for basilar artery aneurysm patients is not always good, especially if they suffer a stroke or continue to experience severe headaches. If the basilar artery aneurysm is treated in time, then it may be possible to save the patient’s life.
Sources & references used in this article:
Basilar artery occlusion by HP Mattle, M Arnold, PJ Lindsberg, WJ Schonewille… – The Lancet …, 2011 – Elsevier
Transpetrosal approach for aneurysms of the lower basilar artery by T Kawase, S Toya, R Shiobara, T Mine – Journal of neurosurgery, 1985 – thejns.org
Basilar artery occlusion: clinical and radiological correlation. by CR Archer, S Horenstein – Stroke, 1977 – Am Heart Assoc