The rule of 4 of the brainstem: a simplified method for understanding brainstem anatomy and brainstem vascular syndromes for the non-neurologist

The rule of 4 is a simple method developed to help ‘students of neurology’ to remember the anatomy of the brainstem and thus the features of the various brainstem vascular syndromes. As medical students, we are taught detailed anatomy of the brainstem containing a bewildering number of structures with curious names such as superior colliculi, inferior olives, various cranial nerve nuclei and the median longitudinal fasciculus. In reality when we do a neurological examination we test for only a few of these structures. The rule of 4 recognizes this and only describes the parts of the brainstem that we actually examine when doing a neurological examination. The blood supply of the brainstem is such that there are paramedian branches and long circumferential branches (the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA), the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) and the superior cerebellar artery (SCA). Occlusion of the paramedian branches results in medial (or paramedian) brainstem syndromes and occlusion of the circumferential branches results in lateral brainstem syndromes. Occasionally lateral brainstem syndromes are seen in unilateral vertebral occlusion. This paper describes a simple technique to aid in the understanding of brainstem vascular syndromes.  >>> Leia o artigo

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