The vertebral arteries are among the major arteries of the neck. Part of the vertibrobasilar system, these arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the brain stem. The vertebral artery can be divided into four parts. The first part runs between the internal jugular vein and seventh vertical vertebra. The second part is situated in front of the trunks of the cervical nerves and runs vertically as far as the transverse process of the axis. The third part issues from the C2 foramen transversarium, while the fourth part pieces the dura mater and runs to the medulla oblongata.
Each vertebral artery, one on the left and another on the right, rise up from the subclavian arteries and rise on a path parallel to the carotid artery. Inside the skull, the two vertebral arteries merge to form the basilar artery, which is among the arteries supplying blood to the brain.
Serious vertebral artery diseases include cerebrovascular insufficiency, which is caused by a narrowing of one or both of the arteries and can lead to stroke.