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JAMA Neurol. 2016 Feb;73(2):178-85. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.3772.

Effect of Hemodynamics on Stroke Risk in Symptomatic Atherosclerotic Vertebrobasilar Occlusive Disease.

Author information

Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, University of Illinois at Chicago3Department of Mathematics & Computer Science, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois.
Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Departments of Neurology and Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri.
Department of Neurology, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).
Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri11Mallinkrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri.
Department of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Grand Rapids, Michigan13Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences, Grand Rapids, Michigan.



Atherosclerotic vertebrobasilar (VB) occlusive disease is a significant etiology of posterior circulation stroke, with regional hypoperfusion as an important potential contributor to stroke risk.


To test the hypothesis that, among patients with symptomatic VB stenosis or occlusion, those with distal blood flow compromise as measured by large-vessel quantitative magnetic resonance angiography (QMRA) are at higher risk of subsequent posterior circulation stroke.


A prospective, blinded, longitudinal cohort study was conducted at 5 academic hospital-based centers in the United States and Canada; 82 patients from inpatient and outpatient settings were enrolled. Participants with recent VB transient ischemic attack or stroke and 50% or more atherosclerotic stenosis or occlusion in vertebral and/or basilar arteries underwent large-vessel flow measurement in the VB territory using QMRA. Physicians performing follow-up assessments were blinded to QMRA flow status. Follow-up included monthly telephone calls for 12 months and biannual clinical visits (for a minimum of 12 months, and up to 24 months or the final visit). Enrollment took place from July 1, 2008, to July 31, 2013, with study completion on June 30, 2014; data analysis was performed from October 1, 2014, to April 10, 2015.


Standard medical management of stroke risk factors.


The primary outcome was VB-territory stroke.


Of the 82 enrolled patients, 72 remained eligible after central review of their angiograms. Sixty-nine of 72 patients completed the minimum 12-month follow-up; median follow-up was 23 (interquartile range, 14-25) months. Distal flow status was low in 18 of the 72 participants (25%) included in the analysis and was significantly associated with risk for a subsequent VB stroke (P = .04), with 12- and 24-month event-free survival rates of 78% and 70%, respectively, in the low-flow group vs 96% and 87%, respectively, in the normal-flow group. The hazard ratio, adjusted for age and stroke risk factors, in the low distal flow status group was 11.55 (95% CI, 1.88-71.00; P = .008). Medical risk factor management at 6-month intervals was similar between patients with low and normal distal flow. Distal flow status remained significantly associated with risk even when controlling for the degree of stenosis and location.


Distal flow status determined using a noninvasive and practical imaging tool is robustly associated with risk for subsequent stroke in patients with symptomatic atherosclerotic VB occlusive disease. Identification of high-risk patients has important implications for future investigation of more aggressive interventional or medical therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosures: Dr Amin-Hanjani reported receiving material research support (no direct funds) from GE Healthcare and VasSol Inc for the VERiTAS study. Dr Liebeskind reported serving as a consultant for Covidien and Stryker. Dr Derdeyn reported serving as a consultant for Microvention, Penumbra, and Silk Road and as a member of the scientific advisory board for Pulse Therapeutics. Dr Gorelick reported serving as the founder and director/codirector of the Clinical Coordinating Center for the Lundbeck-sponsored Desmoteplase in Acute Ischemic Stroke trial. Dr Charbel reported having a financial interest in VasSol Inc. No other conflicts were reported.

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