Incomplete circle of Willis is associated with a higher incidence of neurologic events during carotid eversion endarterectomy without shunting

Péter Vince Banga, Andrea Varga, Csaba Csobay-Novák, Márton Kolossváry, Emese Szántó, Gustavo S. Oderich, László Entz, Péter Sótonyi

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10 Scopus citations


Objective: A complete circle of Willis (CoW) is considered an important collateral network to maintain blood flow during cross-clamping in carotid endarterectomy (CEA). The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of an incomplete CoW with isolated middle cerebral artery (iMCA) on immediate neurologic events (INEs) after CEA. Methods: We prospectively collected the clinical data and outcomes of 902 patients who underwent CEA under general anesthesia between 2013 and 2015. All patients had preoperative computed tomography angiography of the extracranial and intracranial cerebral circulation. Indications were asymptomatic (52%) and symptomatic (48%) carotid artery disease. Patients who had CEA with shunt (n = 35) and those with inadequate intracranial imaging to assess CoW were excluded (n = 322) only. Computed tomography angiography images were reviewed retrospectively and independently by two vascular radiologists who were blinded for treatment outcomes. Imaging assessment included the vertebral and carotid circulation and each segment of the CoW, which was classified as normal, hypoplastic (diameter < 0.8 mm) or absent. The ipsilateral MCA was considered isolated if there was an absence of the anterior and posterior communicating branches from the contralateral carotid or posterior circulations. INE was defined as any transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke diagnosed immediately after the procedure. Results: Of the 545 included patients (331 males; mean age, 69 ± 8 years), 12 (2.2%) had a stroke in the postoperative period. There were 20 INEs (8 strokes and 12 TIAs). A complete CoW was rare; it was only detected in 19 patients (3.5%) and an iMCA was found in 34 patients (6.3%). When at least one collateral circulation was complete (in 330 patients), we observed only four INEs (1.2%). Of the 34 patients with an iMCA, 8 (24%) had INE (6 TIAs and 2 strokes). Overall, iMCA was an independent predictor of INEs (odds ratio, 11.12; 95% confidence interval, 3.57-35.87; P <.001). With logistic regression, the model included hypertension, smoking, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, carotid clamping time (minutes), contralateral significant internal carotid artery stenosis of greater than 90%, ipsilateral significant internal carotid artery stenosis of greater than 90%, preoperative symptoms in 6 months, and iMCA; above iMCA only symptomatic patients had significant risk (odds ratio, 3.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-9.73; P =.02), whereas all other parameters were not significant. Conclusions: An iMCA carries more than a 10-fold higher the risk of INEs after CEA with cross-clamping without shunt protection. In these patients, routine shunting is recommended to prevent INEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1764-1771
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Cerebral circulation
  • Circle of Willis
  • Collateral circulation
  • Computed tomography angiography
  • Middle cerebral artery
  • Selective shunting
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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