Intracranial stenosis is a narrowing of the arteries inside the brain. Similar to carotid stenosis in the neck, it is caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner wall of the blood vessels. This narrowing of the blood vessels causes decreased blood flow to the area of the brain that the affected vessels supply. There are three ways in which intracranial artery stenosis can result in a stroke:
- Plaque can grow larger and larger, severely narrowing the artery and reducing blood flow to the brain. Plaque can eventually completely block (occlude) the artery.
- Plaque can roughen and deform the artery wall, causing blood clots to form and blocking blood flow to the brain.
- Plaque can rupture and break away, traveling downstream to lodge in a smaller artery and blocking blood flow to the brain.
Atherosclerosis is a major cause of intracranial artery stenosis. It can begin in early adulthood, but symptoms may not appear for several decades. Some people have rapidly progressing atherosclerosis during their thirties, others during their fifties or sixties. Atherosclerosis begins with damage to the inner wall of the artery caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and elevated “bad” cholesterol. Other risk factors include obesity, heart disease, family history, and advanced age. Intracranial stenosis is associated with several conditions, including Moya Moya disease, radiation-induced vessel damage (vasculopathy), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Computed Tomography Angiography
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography
- Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound
- Computed Tomography Perfusion
- Positron Emission Tomography
- Blood thinner
- Blood Pressure
- Balloon Angioplasty / Stenting
- Cerebral Artery Bypass