DOI: 10.1177/19714009231224444 ISSN: 1971-4009

Association between vertebral artery dominance and basilar artery curvature in migraineurs: an anatomical magnetic resonance imaging study

Ebru Otu, Selva Şen, Tuğrul Örmeci, Neslihan Yüzbaşıoğlu
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • General Medicine

Background and Purposes

Numerous studies demonstrate a link between cerebrovascular alterations and migraine pathogenesis. We investigated the association between migraine and vertebral artery dominance (VAD), basilar artery (BA) curvature, and elongation.

Materials and Methods

This cross-sectional MRI study included 74 migraine patients and 74 control subjects aged between 18 and 55 years. Diameters of the intracranial part of the vertebral artery (VA) and BA, height of the BA bifurcation, and total lateral displacement of the BA were measured. In addition, we investigated the directional relationship between VAD and BA curvature.


There were no statistically significant differences between the groups regarding VA and BA diameters and total lateral displacement of the BA. The height of the BA bifurcation was found to be significantly higher in migraine patients compared to controls ( p = 0.002). The left-side VAD was more frequent in migraine patients compared to control subjects (60.8% (45/74) vs 41.9% (31/74), p = 0.001). In migraine patients, particularly those with aura (MwA) patients, with left-side VAD, the rate of BA displacement to the right side is significantly higher than those with right-side VAD or non-VAD ( p = 0.022). Also, we found that total lateral displacement of the BA is correlated with VA asymmetry in patients with MwA (r = 0.538, p = 0.007).


VAD and its opposite-directional relationship with the lateral displacement of the BA may be associated with migraine pathophysiology. Together with aging, this association may contribute to changes in the vertebrobasilar system (VBS) geometry which may result in increased risk for posterior circulation infarction (PCI) in migraineurs.

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