SUMMARY Vertebral artery recanalization in symptomatic stenosis/occlusion remains controversial, as no definite evidence exists regarding this topic. There are only a few reports regarding the feasibility and safety of recanalization in the first segment of the vertebral artery with atherosclerotic vertebral ostial occlusion. We report our experience treating first segment occlusion in 8 patients and present a balloon protection technique used to reduce the thromboembolic burden during the stent placement procedure. The outcome at 3 months showed an mRS ≤2 except for a patient with a poor initial status with basilar artery occlusion. Revascularization of a rather long first segment occlusion is technically feasible and can be safely performed by use of embolic protection methods.