Posterior inferior cerebellar artery

The posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) is the largest branch of the vertebral artery. It is one of the three main arteries that supply blood to the cerebellum, a part of the brain. Blockage of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery can result in a type of stroke called lateral medullary syndrome.

Posterior inferior cerebellar artery
The three major arteries of the cerebellum: the SCA, AICA, and PICA (posterior inferior cerebellar artery)
Diagram of the arterial circulation at the base of the brain (PICA labeled at bottom right)
SourceVertebral artery
BranchesMedial branch
VeinInferior cerebellar veins
SuppliesCerebellum, choroid plexus of the fourth ventricle
LatinArteria cerebelli inferior posterior
Anatomical terminology


It winds backward around the upper part of the medulla oblongata, passing between the origins of the vagus nerve and the accessory nerve, over the inferior cerebellar peduncle to the undersurface of the cerebellum, where it divides into two branches.

The medial branch continues backward to the notch between the two hemispheres of the cerebellum; while the lateral supplies the under surface of the cerebellum, as far as its lateral border, where it anastomoses with the anterior inferior cerebellar and the superior cerebellar branches of the basilar artery.

Branches from this artery supply the choroid plexus of the fourth ventricle.

Clinical significance

A disrupted blood supply to posterior inferior cerebellar artery due to a thrombus or embolus can result in a stroke and lead to lateral medullary syndrome. Severe occlusion of this artery or to vertebral arteries could lead to Horner's Syndrome as well.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 580 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  • Anatomy photo:28:09-0225 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • "Anatomy diagram: 13048.000-1". Roche Lexicon - illustrated navigator. Elsevier. Archived from the original on 2014-01-01.
The arteries of the base of the brain. Posterior inferior cerebellar artery labeled at bottom. 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).
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