Timothy C. Hain, MD Page last modified: March 3, 2014
|"Real" radiology reconstruction of normal blood vessels in the neck. Note the carotids (on outside), and vertebral arteries as they traverse the bones of the neck.||Similar territory but different technique, again of normal anatomy. This MRA shows the carotids, verebrals, and a normal vertebral-basilar circulation.|
The brain is supplied by four main blood vessels -- the two carotid arteries and the two vertebral arteries. The carotid arteries are larger and more anterior. The vertebral arteries are smaller, and more posteriorly. The vertebral arteries traverse the bones (vertebrae) of the cervical spine on their way up to the brain. They enter the vertebrae roughly at the C5 level. Because they course within the bones of the neck, it is possible for these arteries to be torn when the neck bones are forcefully rotated. This is called a "dissection".