Multidetector CT angiography of the Circle of Willis: association of its variants with carotid artery disease and brain ischemia

Andrea Varga, Giovanni Di Leo, Péter Vince Banga, Csaba Csobay-Novák, Márton Kolossváry, Pál Maurovich-Horvat, Kálmán Hüttl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: (1) to estimate the prevalence of Circle of Willis (CoW) variants in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy, (2) to correlate these variants to controls and (3) cerebral ischemia depicted by computed tomography (CT). Materials and methods: After Institutional Review Board approval, data of 544 carotid endarterectomy patients (331 males, mean age 69±8 years) and 196 controls (117 males, mean age 66±11 years) who underwent brain CT and carotid CT angiography (CTA) were retrospectively analysed. Two observers independently classified each CoW segment as normal, hypoplastic (diameter <0.8 mm) or non-visualized. Four groups of CoW variants based on the number of hypoplastic/non-visualized segments were correlated with clinical data (ANOVA, χ 2 and multivariate logistic regression analysis). Intra- and inter-observer agreement was estimated using Cohen κ statistics. Results: High prevalence of CoW variants (97%) and compromised CoW (81%) was observed in the study group and significant difference was found in the distribution of CoW variants compared to controls (p<0.001), internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis being the only independent predictor of CoW morphology (p<0.001). Significant correlation was found between CoW configuration and brain ischemia in the study group (p=0.002). ICA stenosis of ≥90% was associated to higher rate of ipsilateral A1 hypoplasia/non-visualization (p<0.001). Intra- and inter-observer agreement was from substantial to almost perfect (Cohen κ=0.75–1.0). Conclusion: Highly variable CoW morphology was demonstrated in patients undergoing endarterectomy compared to controls. Likely compromised CoW in relation to cerebral ischemia was observed in a large cohort of carotid endarterectomy subjects. Key points: • CoW variant distribution significantly differed in the study and control groups (p<0.001). • ICA stenosis was the only independent predictor of CoW morphology (p<0.001). • Severely compromised CoW configuration showed significant association with brain ischemia (p=0.002).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Anatomy
  • Carotid Artery, Internal
  • Circle of Willis
  • CT Angiography
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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