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Clinical features of proven basilar artery occlusion.

Our study describes the early symptoms and signs of 85 patients with either basilar artery occlusion or bilateral distal vertebral artery occlusion documented by selective angiography. The most common prodromal symptoms were vertigo, nausea, and headache, which occurred during the 2 weeks before the stroke. Angiographic findings of 49 patients were classified into proximal, middle, and distal basilar artery occlusions. Twenty-two of these patients had additional vertebral artery lesions. A fourth group was composed of 36 patients with bilateral distal vertebral artery occlusion without opacification of the basilar artery through a vertebral artery injection. Onset was sudden in 20 patients; sudden, but preceded by prodromal symptoms in 11 patients; and progressive in 54 patients. Patients with progressive strokes often had bilateral vertebral artery occlusions. Most patients with acute onset had occlusion of the middle and distal basilar artery. An embolic origin of basilar artery occlusion from an arteriosclerotic vertebral artery lesion was assumed to be an important mechanism. An embolus reaching the basilar artery may not necessarily reach the top of the artery, but may also become lodged more proximally.

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