The basilar artery is part of the blood supply system for the brain and central nervous system. It is formed where the two vertebral arteries join together at the base of the skull. The basilar artery carries oxygenated blood to the cerebellum, brain stem, and occipital lobes. Several arteries branch from the basilar artery at the upper portion of the brain stem, delivering blood to various parts of the brain. Two posterior cerebral arteries lead to the temporal lobes and the occipital cortices. A pair of superior cerebellar arteries, another pair of anterior inferior cerebellar arteries, and several paramedian and circumferential pontine arteries also branch from the basilar artery. Interruption of the blood flow through the basilar artery can lead to severe brain damage, organ malfunction, or death. An aneurysm, or bulge in the artery wall, may push that portion of the brain, or rupture and hemorrhage. A thrombosis, or blood clot, may block the artery and prevent blood from passing through. Because of its location and importance in providing oxygen and nutrients to vital portions of the brain, an aneurysm or thrombosis in the basilar artery is particularly dangerous.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Basilar artery