Vertebral artery terminating in posterior inferior cerebellar artery: A normal variation with clinical significance

I. Wen Liu, Bo Lin Ho, Chien Fu Chen, Ke Han, Chung Jung Lin, Wen Yung Sheng, Han Hwa Hu, A. Ching Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A vertebral artery (VA) terminating in a posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) is often considered to be a normal variation associated with VA hypoplasia. We aimed to investigate the clinical significance of this cerebrovascular variant. A total of 80 patients with clinically evident cerebrovascular events in posterior circulation were examined by duplex sonography and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Eighty healthy subjects who had MRA check-up were recruited as controls. PICA termination of the VA (PICA-VA) was identified as the VA not communicating with the basilar artery (BA) but ending into a PICA. We compared the prevalence of PICA-VA and associated hemodynamic parameters between the patients with and without PICA-VA, and investigated their relationships with VA hypoplasia. The prevalence of PICA-VA was higher in the patient group than in the controls (18.7% vs. 6.3%, p = 0.015). Most measurements (73.3%) of PICA-VA did not fit the criteria of VA hypoplasia. In comparison with the non-PICA-terminating group, the PICA-VA has a smaller diameter (3.7 ± 0.7 mm vs. 3.0 ± 0.5 mm, p < 0.001), lower mean velocity (241 ± 100 mm/ sec vs. 164 ± 88 mm/sec, p < 0.01), and higher pulsatility index (1.3 ± 0.5 vs. 1.9 ± 0.6, p < 0.001). Moreover, a smaller diameter of the BA (3.2 ± 0.5 mm vs. 2.5 ± 0.9 mm, p = 0.004) and the posterior cerebral artery (PCA) (2.0 ± 0.1 mm vs. 1.6 ± 0.1 mm, p = 0.006) were also noted in the PICA-VA group. The higher prevalence of PICA-VA in the patient group with smaller diameter of VA, BA and PCA reflected its clinical significance, suggesting that PICA-VA may have a detrimental impact on cerebral hemodynamics. However, the sample is small, and further studies are needed with larger sample size for confirmation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0175264
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Vertebral artery terminating in posterior inferior cerebellar artery: A normal variation with clinical significance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this