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Ann Neurol. 2011 Jun;69(6):963-74. doi: 10.1002/ana.22354. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Collaterals dramatically alter stroke risk in intracranial atherosclerosis.

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UCLA Stroke Center, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.



Stroke risk due to intracranial atherosclerosis increases with degree of arterial stenosis. We evaluated the previously unexplored role of collaterals in modifying stroke risk in intracranial atherosclerosis and impact on subsequent stroke characteristics.


Collateral flow was graded in blind fashion on 287 of 569 baseline angiograms (stenoses of 50-99% and adequate collateral views) in the Warfarin--Aspirin Symptomatic Intracranial Disease (WASID) trial. Statistical models predicted stroke in the symptomatic arterial territory based on collateral flow grade, percentage of stenosis, and previously demonstrated independent covariates.


Across all stenoses, extent of collaterals was a predictor for subsequent stroke in the symptomatic arterial territory (hazard ratio [HR] none vs good, 1.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39-3.30; poor vs good, 4.36; 95% CI, 1.46-13.07; p < 0.0001). For 70 to 99% stenoses, more extensive collaterals diminished risk of subsequent territorial stroke (HR none vs good, 4.60; 95% CI, 1.03-20.56; poor vs good, 5.90; 95% CI, 1.25-27.81; p = 0.0427). At milder degrees of stenoses (50-69%), presence of collaterals was associated with greater likelihood of subsequent stroke (HR none vs good, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.04-0.82; poor vs good, 1.78; 95% CI, 0.37-8.57; p < 0.0001). In multivariate analyses, extent of collaterals was an independent predictor for subsequent stroke in the symptomatic arterial territory (HR none vs good, 1.62; 95% CI, 0.52-5.11; poor vs good, 4.78; 95% CI, 1.55-14.7; p = 0.0019).


Collateral circulation is a potent determinant of stroke risk in intracranial atherosclerosis, demonstrating a protective role with severe stenoses and identifying more unstable milder stenoses.

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