Dynamic Respiratory Tortuosity of the Vertebral Artery Ostium

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Purpose: To determine the prevalence of dynamic respiratory tortuosity (DRT) of the vertebral artery ostium (VAO) as well as to evaluate its correlation with in-stent restenosis (ISR) and stent fracture. Methods: From March 2012 to June 2015, 178 consecutive patients (mean age 65.2±5.8 years; 124 men) with symptoms of atherosclerotic vertebrobasilar ischemia underwent angiography prior to stent implantation in the vertebral, subclavian, and/or carotid arteries. In this cohort, 54 patients (mean age 67.3±5.3 years; 40 men) had VAO stent implantation. Angiography of the vertebral artery was recorded in 2 phases with breath-hold: deep inspiration (DIP) and deep expiration (DEP). Obvious VAO tortuosity was defined as any VAO angle ≤120° in DIP. Obvious VAO-DRT was defined as any VAO angle increasing ≥60° from DIP to DEP. Computed tomography angiography (CTA) or digital subtraction angiography was used in follow-up to detect ISR and stent fracture. Results: Of the 178 patients in this study, 21 (11.8%) had obvious VAO tortuosity and 8 (4.5%) had obvious VAO-DRT. Two of the 21 patients with obvious VAO tortuosity also had obvious VAO-DRT. Three of the 54 VAO stent patients had VAO-DRT. There were no correlations between VAO-DRT and age, sex, risk factors, body mass index, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or obvious VAO tortuosity (p>0.05). Over a mean follow-up of 28±10 months, there were 4 (7.4%) asymptomatic VAO ISR cases. Two (3.7%) were occlusions at 6 and 12 months, respectively; both were associated with stent fracture in patients with obvious VAO-DRT before stenting. Both stents fractured at the tortuous VAO region. VAO-DRT was correlated with stent fracture (Spearman ρ=0.81, p<0.01) and ISR (Spearman ρ=0.55, p<0.01). Conclusion: VAO-DRT could be a risk factor for stent fracture and restenosis after VAO stent implantation. Angiography in both inspiration and expiration phases, especially the latter, should be considered before VAO stenting. Using a shorter stent to avoid crossing the tortuosity could reduce the occurrence of fracture.

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