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Man Ther. 2004 Feb;9(1):13-21.

Doppler studies evaluating the effect of a physical therapy screening protocol on vertebral artery blood flow.

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School of Physical Therapy, University of Saskatchewan, 210-1121 College Drive, Saskatoon, Sask S7N 0W3, Canada.


General and isolated cervical positional tests are used to screen for potential vertebro-basilar insufficiency (VBI). There is limited research evaluating vertebral artery blood flow in these positions to justify the rationale of progressive mechanical stress occurring to the arteries. The purpose of the study was to determine vertebral artery blood flow in six cervical positions used in clinical practice. A comprehensive cervical assessment was conducted on 22 men and women (mean age 35) with no known vascular pathology. Vertebral artery peak systolic (PS), end diastolic (ED) flow rates and resistive index (RI) were measured using duplex colour Doppler sonography (sampling at C3-C5) in neutral, rotation, extension, combined rotation-extension, combined rotation-extension-traction, deKelyn's position and a C1-C2 pre-manipulative hold. Results showed there was a significant decrease in PS and ED in the contra-lateral artery during the pre-manipulative hold, and a decrease in ED in the contra-lateral artery during rotation. There was no effect of age, gender or mobility restriction on these blood flow changes. The pre-manipulative hold had the greatest response with 34% of the arteries demonstrating a complete cessation of ED flow. In conclusion the pre-manipulative hold and rotation created the greatest mechanical stress to the contra-lateral vertebral artery. These two positions may be useful screening positions to identify individuals at risk for VBI due to inadequate collateral blood flow.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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