A technical note on anterolateral mobilization in vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia for relief of brainstem compression

Jesse J. Liu, Brannan E. O’neill, David Mazur-Hart, Kutluay Uluc, Aclan Dogan, Justin S. Cetas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vascular compression of neural tissue causing neurological symptoms is a well-known phenomenon. This is commonly seen in trigeminal neuralgia and, less commonly, in hemifacial spasm by small arteries, which can be treated by micro-vascular decompression. Rarely, larger arteries, such as the vertebral arteries, may compress the brainstem. This can lead to symptoms of pontine or medullary distress like hemiparesis, dysphagia, or respiratory distress. This is treated by macrovascular decompression. Due to the rare and heterogenous nature of this disease, there is no standardized approach. We describe a novel technique whereby the vertebrobasilar system is mobilized anterolaterally towards the occipital condyle with a sling to decompress the brainstem. We report two cases of vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia causing brainstem compression. A carotid patch graft sling with anterolateral mobilization to the occipital condyle is described as a surgical nuance to macrovascular decompressive surgery. Briefly, the vertebral artery was identified and dissected away from the brainstem and the bulbar cranial nerves. Bovine pericardium graft was used to create a sling around the artery by suturing the two ends together. The sling was then fixed either to the occipital condyle using cranial plating screws or suturing to the dura of the occipital condyle. A novel surgical technique for management of vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia causing brainstem compression with progressive neurological deterioration is reported. Anatomical location and the offending vessel should guide neurosurgeons to select the best surgical option to achieve complete decompression of the involved neural structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Brainstem
  • Compression
  • Dolichoectasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery


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