Circulatory System of the Brain

You know how cardiac nurses need to know the coronary arteries and the major vessels of the heart? Neuro nurses need to know the major blood vessels of the brain.

Like knowing the lobes of the brain, knowing the circulation is just as important. Many neuro disease processes involve these major blood vessels to some degree. Also, neurologists and neurosurgeons are very well-versed in these vessels and can talk quickly about them in acronyms (for example, the MCA, which is the middle cerebral artery). It is incredibly helpful to know what those acronyms are referring to, especially when communicating neuro changes.

This image is looking up at the brain from the floor. (Picture yourself laying down flat on the floor, looking directly up at the bottom of someone's brain.)

If there is an occlusion creating ischemia in a specific vessel, we can anticipate the deficits. If we hear in report from the ED that we're getting a patient with a basal artery occlusion, we know we're dealing with one sick pup because that vessel supplies the brainstem. If we have a hemorrhagic stroke in the MCA, we know we could see some personality changes, judgement issues, and problems with speech.

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