What is the Basilar Artery?
The basilar artery is a major blood vessel located at the base of the brain. It is formed by the convergence of the two vertebral arteries, which run up the back of the neck and join at the lower portion of the brainstem. The basilar artery supplies oxygen-rich blood to various regions of the brain, including the brainstem, cerebellum, and parts of the occipital and temporal lobes. As it ascends along the brainstem, the basilar artery gives off several branches that provide blood supply to these critical structures. At its terminal end, the basilar artery bifurcates into the posterior cerebral arteries, which continue to supply blood to the posterior portions of the cerebral hemispheres.
Examples of the Basilar Artery in neuroscience
Brainstem Blood Supply
The basilar artery plays a crucial role in providing blood supply to the brainstem, a structure responsible for essential life-sustaining functions, such as regulation of heart rate, breathing, and consciousness. Proper blood flow through the basilar artery is vital for the normal functioning of the brainstem.
Cerebellar Blood Supply
Branches of the basilar artery, such as the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) and the superior cerebellar artery (SCA), supply blood to the cerebellum, which is involved in the coordination, precision, and timing of movements, as well as certain cognitive functions.
Basilar Artery Occlusion
Basilar artery occlusion is a medical emergency in which the basilar artery becomes blocked, often by a blood clot. This blockage can lead to reduced blood flow to critical brain structures, resulting in stroke, brain damage, and potentially life-threatening consequences. Symptoms of basilar artery occlusion may include dizziness, vision problems, coordination difficulties, and loss of consciousness.