Anterolateral Approach for a Cervical Nerve Root Compression Syndrome Due to an Ectatic Vertebral Artery

Andrew S. Venteicher, Ayesha Quddusi, Jean V. Coumans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND IMPORTANCE: Nerve root compression by an ectatic vertebral artery is a known but easily overlooked cause of cervical radiculopathy. Management options include nonoperative conservative therapies or surgical approaches designed to relieve the compression via anterior or posterior cervical approaches. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: A 72-yr-old female presented with a 6-mo history of sharp, shooting pain in her right arm and shoulder and deltoid weakness. Imaging demonstrated a vertebral artery loop compressing the proximal right C5 nerve root. She previously underwent both nonoperative measures as well as posterior foraminotomy at this level with limited improvement in her pain. Therefore, we performed an anterolateral approach for vascular decompression of the C5 nerve root from the vertebral artery loop. Patient has been pain-free at 1 yr with full recovery of her deltoid weakness. CONCLUSION: Vertebral artery loop formation is an uncommon cause of cervical radiculopathy, which can be readily treated by vascular decompression of the nerve root-vertebral artery loop complex. Although anomalous vertebral artery compression of a cervical nerve root is rare, it is increasingly being recognized as a readily treatable entity that can lead to lasting and full neurological recovery. We also include an operative video to illustrate the vascular decompression of an ectatic vertebral artery causing severe cervical radiculopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberopy282
Pages (from-to)E29-E32
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.


  • Cervical nerve root compression syndrome
  • Craniocervical junction
  • Radiculopathy
  • Vascular decompression
  • Vertebral artery
  • Vertebral artery mobilization
  • Vertebral artery transposition


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