Background and Purpose - The anterior communicating artery (AcoA) and posterior communicating arteries (PcoA) of the circle of Willis provide the main route for collateral blood flow in cases of carotid artery obstruction. Transcranial color-coded duplex ultrasonography (TCCD) allows real-time measurement of the collateral function of the AcoA and PcoA. The primary objective of this study was to determine the collateral artery threshold diameters for supplying collateral flow. Methods - In 12 acute stroke patients with a median age of 75 years (51 to 91 years), the collateral integrity of the circle of Willis as assessed by TCCD and carotid compression tests was compared with their postmortem anatomy. The lengths and diameters of the collateral arteries were measured. Results - TCCD demonstrated absent anterior collateral flow in 3 patients. In 1 of these patients, absence of anterior cross-flow was due to an occluded anterior cerebral artery, which was revealed at autopsy. Absent posterior collateral flow was found in 14 hemispheres. In 2 of these hemispheres, autopsy revealed a fetal configuration of the posterior cerebral artery hampering posterior collateral flow. The median (range) diameters as found at autopsy of the functional (n=19) and nonfunctional (n=16) collateral arteries of the circle of Willis were 1.1 (0.4 to 2.0) and 0.5 (0.3 to 0.7) mm, respectively (P=0.003). PcoA diameters were found to correlate negatively (p=-0.50, P=0.01) to the diameters of their accessory P1 segments. Conclusions - The threshold diameter allowing for cross-flow through the primary collateral arteries of the circle of Willis is between 0.4 and 0.6 mm.
- Cerebral arteries
- Collateral circulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialised Nursing