Send to

Choose Destination
J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2019 Jan 11. pii: S0022-5223(19)30030-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2019.01.007. [Epub ahead of print]

A functional assessment of the circle of Willis before aortic arch surgery using transcranial Doppler.

Author information

Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University Medical Center St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, St Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands; Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:



Antegrade selective cerebral perfusion (ASCP) with systemic moderate hypothermia is routinely used as brain protection during aortic arch surgery. Whether ASCP should be delivered unilaterally (u-ASCP) or bilaterally (bi-ASCP) remains controversial.


We routinely studied the functional anatomy of the circle of Willis (CoW in all patients scheduled for arch surgery using transcranial color-coded Doppler over a decade. On the basis of these data, we classified observed functional variants as being "safe," "moderately safe," or "unsafe" for u-ASCP.


From January 2005 to June 2015, 1119 patients underwent aortic arch surgery in our institution. Of these, 636 patients had elective surgery performed with ASCP. Preoperative full functional assessment of the CoW was possible in 61% of patients. A functionally complete CoW was found in only 27%. Of all variants, 72% were classified as being safe for u-ASCP, whereas 18% were moderately safe for u-ASCP, and 10% unsafe. Unsafe variants for bi-ASCP were observed in 0.5% of patients.


The risk of ischemic brain damage due to malperfusion is estimated to be substantially higher during right u-ASCP than during bi-ASCP. Bi-ASCP is therefore highly preferable over u-ASCP if the function of the CoW is unknown. We propose a tailored approach using this full functional assessment preoperatively by applying u-ASCP via the right subclavian artery when considered safely possible, and bi-ASCP when considered a necessity to prevent cerebral malperfusion, and thus thereby try to reduce the embolic stroke risk of ostial instrumentation in bi-ASCP.


antegrade selective cerebral perfusion; aortic arch surgery; cerebral protection; circle of Willis

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center