Folia Medica 61(3): 377-383, doi: 10.3897/folmed.61.e39418
The Vertebral Artery Convergence to the Cervical Spine in Elders
expand article infoBanu Alicioglu, Nadir Gulekon§
‡ Bulent Ecevit Universitesi, Zonguldak, Turkey§ Gazi Universitesi Tip Fakultes, Ankara, Turkey
Open Access

Background: In the older population, tortuosity of the vertebral artery (VA), uncovertebral joint (UVJ) osteoarthritis, and abnormal vertebral alignment may alter the normal anatomy.

Aim: We aimed to determine the anatomical variations and relationships between the cervical segment of the VA and the cervical spine with regard to ageing.

Materials and methods: In this retrospective cross-sectional study, the computed tomography angiography scans of 110 subjects were reviewed. Any variations in the VA, UVJ degeneration were identified. The distance between the VA and uncinate process (UP) was measured electronically. The distance between the VA and UP were compared according to the age group (group A < 45, group B = 45-65, and group C > 65 years-old).

Results: With regard to the transverse foramen, 7.2% of the cases had entering abnormalities of the VA, while in one case (0.83%), the right VA had an exiting abnormality (exiting from the C2 instead of the C1). UVJ degeneration was found to be significantly higher in the older age group (p < 0.05). Furthermore, at the C4-C7 levels, the distances between the VA and UP were significantly smaller in the older age group (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: The VA-UP distance has been shown to decrease due to increasing UVJ osteoarthritis in the elderly. The convergence of the VA toward the spine occurs at the most mobile segment of the cervical spine, and this anatomical alteration may predispose temporary and/or permanent vertebral artery occlusion clinically, and be dangerous during cervical spine surgery.

aging, computed tomography, angiography, spine, osteoarthritis, vertebral artery