Posterior circulation stroke, which includes basilar artery occlusion (BAO), accounts for approximately 20% of all ischemic strokes. Much is unclear concerning the early historical descriptions of basilar artery occlusion, and some modern authors cite the historical sources incorrectly and incompletely. The case described by the Scottish physician John Abercrombie in 1828 is probably the first description of this form of stroke. The progressive bulbar signs that Abercrombie described in his case were striking, i.e., dysphagia and speech difficulties. Many authors in the 19th century described a waxing and waning clinical course for several days before profound coma and death. They also noticed signs and symptoms such as hemiplegia without loss of sensitivity and bulbar symptoms such as swallowing and speech impairment, vertigo, and altered consciousness. After Virchows epoch-making work on embolism and thrombosis, all authors correctly described BAO as resulting from emboli and thrombosis based on arteriosclerosis instead of ossification of the arterial walls or inflammation. Around 1880, the clinical symptoms of BAO were obviously well-known to the experienced clinician. In this article we offer a chronological description of historical sources.

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Kompanje, E.J.O., Walgaard, C., de Groot, Y.J., & Stevens, M.. (2011). Historical sources of basilar artery occlusion. Neurology, 76(17), 1520–1523. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318217e755