Vertebrobasilar ectasia in patients with lacunar stroke: The secondary prevention of small subcortical strokes trial

Makoto Nakajima, Lesly A. Pearce, Nobuyuki Ohara, Thalia S. Field, Carlos Bazan, David C. Anderson, Robert G. Hart, Oscar R. Benavente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background The clinical implications of vertebrobasilar ectasia (VBE) in patients with cerebral small-artery disease are not well defined. We investigated whether VBE is associated with recurrent stroke, major hemorrhage, and death in a large cohort of patients with recent lacunar stroke. Methods Maximum diameters of the vertebral and basilar arteries were measured by magnetic resonance angiography and computed tomographic angiography in 2621 participants in the Secondary Prevention of Small Subcortical Strokes trial. VBE was defined a priori as basilar artery greater than 4.5 mm and/or vertebral artery greater than 4.0 mm. Patient characteristics and risks of stroke recurrence and mortality during follow-up (median, 3.5 years) were compared between patients with and without VBE. Results VBE affecting 1 or more arteries was present in 200 (7.6%) patients. Patient features independently associated with VBE were increasing age, male sex, white race ethnicity, hypertension, and higher baseline diastolic blood pressure. Baseline systolic blood pressure was inversely associated with VBE. After adjustment for other risk factors, VBE was not predictive of recurrent stroke (hazard ratio [HR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI],.85-1.9) or major hemorrhage (HR, 1.5; CI,.94-2.6), but was of death (HR, 1.7; CI, 1.1-2.7). Conclusions In this large well-characterized cohort of patients with recent lacunar stroke, VBE was predictive of death but not of recurrent stroke or major hemorrhage. In these exploratory analyses, the frequency of VBE was directly related to diastolic blood pressure but inversely related to systolic blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1058
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Death arterial diameter
  • Lacunar stroke prognosis
  • Recurrent stroke
  • Vertebrobasilar ectasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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