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Overview

Transient ischemic attacks involving vertebral-basilar vessels

TIAs in the vertebral-basilar territory can produce a number of different problems reflecting the many functions of the brainstem. Because the basilar artery is a single midline vessel with branches supplying both sides of the brainstem, these TIAs can produce bilateral or unilateral motor and sensory findings. 

The most common signs and symptoms reported in brainstem TIAs are dizziness or vertigo and nausea. These complaints probably result from damage to vestibular system structures found throughout much of the brainstem. However, episodes of dizziness or nausea are not uniquely associated with TIAs (nor is every TIA producing dizziness caused by blockage of vertebral-basilar vessels). Accurate diagnosis and localization of vertebral-basilar territory TIAs requires other brainstem findings in addition to 'dizziness.'