Revascularization of the extracranial vertebral artery has evolved significantly since the adoption of endovascular techniques. The current neurosurgical armamentarium includes microsurgical and endovascular approaches. The indications for each treatment modality, however, still need to be further delineated. In contrast to carotid artery endarterectomy and carotid artery angioplasty/stenting, there is limited comparative evidence on the efficacy of medical, open, and endovascular treatment of atherosclerotic disease of the extracranial vertebral artery. More recently, drug-eluting stents have gained momentum after high rates of in-stent restenosis have been reported with bare metal stents placed in the vertebral artery. In this article, we discuss the indications, clinical assessment, and surgical nuances of microsurgical and endovascular revascularization for atherosclerotic disease of the extracranial vertebral artery. Despite a general tendency to consider endovascular treatment in the majority of patients, ultimately, open and endovascular revascularization of extracranial vertebral artery should be regarded as complementary therapies and both treatment options need to be discussed in selected patients.
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