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Posterior cerebral artery
Gray's Anatomy plate 517 brain.png
Outer surface of cerebral hemisphere, showing areas supplied by cerebral arteries. (Yellow is region supplied by posterior cerebral artery.)
Circle of Willis en.svg
The arterial circle and arteries of the brain. The posterior cerebral arteries (bottom forks) arise from the basilar artery (center).
Source basilar artery (most common in adults)
Vein cerebral veins
Supplies occipital lobe of cerebrum
Latin arteria cerebri posterior
MeSH A07.
TA A12.2.07.082
FMA 50583
Anatomical terminology

The posterior cerebral artery (PCA) is one of a pair of blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the posterior aspect of the brain (occipital lobe) in human anatomy. It arises near the intersection of the posterior communicating artery and the basilar artery and connects with the ipsilateral middle cerebral artery (MCA) and internal carotid artery via the posterior communicating artery (PCommA).


The development of the PCA in fetal brain comes relatively late and arises from the fusion of several embryonic vessels near the caudal end of the PCommA supplying the mesencephalon and diencephalon of the fetus.[1] The PCA begins as such, as a continuation of the PCommA in the fetus with only 10–30% of fetuses having a prominent basilar origin.[2]

The fetal carotid origin of the PCA usually regresses as the vertebral and basilar arteries develop with the PCommA reducing is size. In most adults, the PCA sources from the anterior portion of the basilar artery. Only about 19% of adults retain PCommA dominance of the PCA with 72% having dominant basilar origin, and the rest having either equal prominence between PCommA and basilar artery, or a single exclusive source.[2]


The branches of the posterior cerebral artery are divided into two sets, ganglionic and cortical:

Central branches[edit]

Also known as the perforating branches:

  • Thalamoperforating and thalamogeniculate or postero-medial ganglionic branches: a group of small arteries which arise at the commencement of the posterior cerebral artery: these, with similar branches from the posterior communicating, pierce the posterior perforated substance, and supply the medial surfaces of the thalami and the walls of the third ventricle.
  • Peduncular perforating or postero-lateral ganglionic branches: small arteries which arise from the posterior cerebral artery after it has turned around the cerebral peduncle; they supply a considerable portion of the thalamus.
Posterior cerebral artery

Choroidal branches[edit]

Cortical branches[edit]

The cortical branches are:

  • Anterior temporal, distributed to the uncus and the anterior part of the fusiform gyrus
  • Posterior temporal, to the fusiform and the inferior temporal gyri
  • Lateral occipital, which branches into the anterior, middle and posterior inferior temporal arteries
  • Medial occipital, which branches into the:
  • Splenial, or the posterior pericallosal branch, sometimes anastamoses with the anterior cerebral artery (ACA), and may not be present if the ACA wraps around the corpus callosum

Clinical relevance[edit]


Signs and symptoms:Structures involved

Peripheral territory (Cortical branches)[edit]

  • Homonymous hemianopia (often upper quadrantic): Calcarine cortex or optic radiation nearby.
  • Bilateral homonymous hemianopia, cortical blindness, awareness or denial of blindness; tactile naming, achromatopia (color blindness), failure to see to-and-fro movements, inability to perceive objects not centrally located, apraxia of ocular movements, inability to count or enumerate objects, tendency to run into things that the patient sees and tries to avoid: Bilateral occipital lobe with possibly the parietal lobe involved.
  • Verbal dyslexia without agraphia, color anomia: Dominant calcarine lesion and posterior part of corpus callosum.
  • Memory defect: Hippocampal lesion bilaterally or on the dominant side only.
  • Topographic disorientation and prosopagnosia: Usually with lesions of nondominant, calcarine, and lingual gyrus.
  • Simultanagnosia, hemivisual neglect: Dominant visual cortex, contralateral hemisphere.
  • Unformed visual hallucinations, peduncular hallucinosis, metamorphopsia, teleopsia, illusory visual spread, palinopsia, distortion of outlines, central photophobia: Calcarine cortex.
  • Complex hallucinations: Usually nondominant hemisphere.

Central territory (Ganglionic branches)[edit]

  • Thalamic syndrome: sensory loss (all modalities), spontaneous pain and dysesthesias, choreoathetosis, intention tremor, spasms of hand, mild hemiparesis, contralateral hemianaethesia: Posteroventral nucleus of thalamus; involvement of the adjacent subthalamus body or its afferent tracts.
  • Thalamoperforate syndrome: crossed cerebellar ataxia with ipsilateral third nerve palsy (Claude's syndrome): Dentatothalamic tract and issuing third nerve.
  • Weber's syndrome: third nerve palsy and contralateral hemiplegia: Third nerve and cerebral peduncle.
  • Contralateral hemiplegia: Cerebral peduncle.
  • Paralysis or paresis of vertical eye movement, skew deviation, sluggish pupillary responses to light, slight miosis and ptosis (retraction nystagmus and "tucking" of the eyelids may be associated): Supranuclear fibers to third nerve, interstitial nucleus of Cajal, nucleus of Darkschewitsch, and posterior commissure.
  • Contralateral rhythmic, ataxic action tremor; rhythmic postural or "holding" tremor (rubral tremor): Dentatothalamic tract.

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see anatomical terminology.

Additional images[edit]

Medial surface of cerebral hemisphere, showing areas supplied by cerebral arteries. Areas supplied by the posterior cerebral artery shown in yellow. 
The arteries of the base of the brain. Posterior cerebral artery labeled near center. The temporal pole of the cerebrum and a portion of the cerebellar hemisphere have been removed on the right side. Inferior aspect (viewed from below). 


  1. ^ Osborn, Anne G.; Jacobs, John M. (1999), Diagnostic Cerebral Angiography, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, p. 153, ISBN 978-0-397-58404-8 
  2. ^ a b Krayenbühl, Hugo; Yaşargil, Mahmut Gazi; Huber, Peter; Bosse, George (1982), Cerebral Angiography, Thieme, pp. 163–165, ISBN 978-0-86577-067-6 
  3. ^ Atlas of Human Anatomy, Frank Netter

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posterior_cerebral_artery — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

60 news items

BMC Blogs Network
Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:41:15 -0700

Although HAS is widely described in the middle cerebral artery, termed Hyperdense Middle Cerebral Artery Sign (HMCAS), it is also reported in internal carotid artery, posterior cerebral artery, basilar artery and to a lesser extent, anterior cerebral ...
AJNR (subscription)
Tue, 21 Mar 2006 14:06:29 -0800

Address correspondence to Paul M. Sherman, MD, Wilford Hall Medical Center, 59MDW/759MDTS/MTRD, 2200 Bergquist Dr, Ste 1, Lackland AFB, TX 78236. Fig 1. View larger version: In this page · In a new window · Download as PowerPoint Slide. Fig 1.

Geelong Advertiser

Geelong Advertiser
Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:22:30 -0700

The St Albans Park mother of two was in a life-threatening car accident in March and was told she might never walk again. Now she's walking 24km a day. The accident left her with a fractured C1-C4 spinal cord, posterior cerebral artery strokes, pelvic ...
AJNR (subscription)
Thu, 16 Feb 2006 10:56:44 -0800

... parts of the basilar artery (BA), and the posterior cerebral artery (PCA) are derived in later life. This concept is challenged by the authors taking their case of a segmental agenesis of the ICA distal to the PComA into account. They regard the ...

2 Minute Medicine

2 Minute Medicine
Fri, 03 Jul 2015 23:16:09 -0700

Of the remaining 108 patients, 35 patients had a total of 47 arterial occlusions, with 33 in the middle cerebral artery, 9 in the internal carotid artery, 2 in the anterior cerebral artery, 1 in the basilar artery, and 2 in the posterior cerebral ...
Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (subscription)
Thu, 25 Jul 2013 02:53:50 -0700

ACA indicates anterior cerebral artery; ICA, internal carotid artery; MCA, middle cerebral artery; MCA-d, duplicated middle cerebral artery; and PCA, posterior cerebral artery. Duplication of the middle cerebral artery has a reported prevalence of 0.4 ...


Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:58:58 -0800

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Acute posterior circulation ischemic strokes are more difficult to diagnose in the emergency department (ED) than anterior circulation strokes, which leads to longer times before a neurologist is called in and delays in definitive ...

Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen Daily Herald
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:01:17 -0700

The blindness affects the posterior cerebral artery, which supplies blood to that part of the brain for eyesight,” he said. Pierce-Franklin was depressed and suicidal right after his stroke and the onset of blindness. “Everything I loved was replaced ...

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