Compensatory patterns of collateral flow in stroke patients with unilateral and bilateral carotid stenosis

Hui Fang, Bo Song, Bo Cheng, Ka Sing Wong, Yu Ming Xu, Stella Sin Yee Ho, Xiang Yan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Collateral pathways are important in maintaining adequate cerebral blood flow in patients with carotid stenosis. We aimed to evaluate the hemodynamic patterns in relation to carotid stenosis in acute stroke patients. Methods: Consecutive 586 stroke patients in a hospital based cohort were included in the present study. Carotid duplex was performed to identify patients with absolute minimal diameter reductions of 50 % or greater in their internal carotid arteries (ICAs). Color velocity imaging quantification ultrasound (CVIQ) was used to measure extracranial arterial blood flow volume (BFV) in bilateral common carotid arteries (CCAs) and bilateral vertebral arteries (VAs). The absolute values of BFV and the ratios were compared between patients with and without ICA stenosis. Results: Among 586 acute ischemic stroke patients (mean age: 67.5 ± 12.4y), ICA stenosis was detected in 112 patients (19.1 %), including unilateral ICA stenosis in 81 patients (13.8 %) and bilateral ICA stenosis in 31 patients (5.3 %). Among patients with unilateral ICA stenosis, the BFV in contralateral CCA was significantly higher than that in ipsilateral CCA (325.5 ± 99.8 mL/min vs. 242.2 ± 112.2 mL/min, P < 0.001). Among patients with bilateral ICA stenosis, the sum of BFV in bilateral VAs accounted for 22 % of the whole cerebral blood flow, which was significantly higher than that in those without ICA stenosis (14.8 %, P < 0.001) or with unilateral ICA stenosis (16.9 %, P = 0.007). Conclusions: In patients with unilateral carotid stenosis, contralateral carotid blood flow increases to compensate decreased blood flow, while posterior circulation may compensate for the decreased brain perfusion in those with bilateral carotid stenosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotid stenosis
  • Collateral circulation
  • Stroke
  • Ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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