A Review of the Circle of Willis: Investigative Methods, Anatomical Variations and Correlated Ischemic Brain Diseases

Sci Insigt. 2020; 33(2):159-166.

8 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Wei Wang

Wei Wang

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU)

Qiudian Wang

University of Edinburgh

Mingrui Qiu

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU)

Aizhen Pan

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU)

Guanying Yang

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU)

Date Written: April 16, 2020

Abstract

The Circle of Willis (CoW) is the most important collateral pathway communicating between the bilateral carotid system and the posterior circulation. Many techniques have been used to investigate the configuration and function of the CoW and their advantages and disadvantages are reviewed here. In previous studies, morphometric variation in CoW has been widely detected; however, the frequency of variation ranges largely, between 10% and 85%. Some differences in reported frequency may reflect differences in: the definition of CoW variation, the methods used to examine variation and study populations. Two conclusions, however, are clear: (i) the prevalence of variation in the posterior circle is higher than in that of the anterior circle; and (ii) variations in the CoW are correlated with cerebral or carotid vessel diseases. Although the cause of the variants remains unclear, both genetic background and hemodynamics could play important roles. Lastly, the correlation between the CoW and ischemic brain diseases is discussed. In future, artificial intelligence will be helpful for evaluating the CoW.

Keywords: Circle of Willis; Diagnostic Imaging; Dissection; Anatomic Variation; Brain Ischemia

Suggested Citation

Wang, Wei and Wang, Qiudian and Qiu, Mingrui and Pan, Aizhen and Yang, Guanying, A Review of the Circle of Willis: Investigative Methods, Anatomical Variations and Correlated Ischemic Brain Diseases (April 16, 2020). Sci Insigt. 2020; 33(2):159-166., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3578150 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3578150

Wei Wang

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) ( email )

135, Xingang Xi Road
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275
China

Qiudian Wang

University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

Mingrui Qiu

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) ( email )

135, Xingang Xi Road
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275
China

Aizhen Pan (Contact Author)

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) ( email )

135, Xingang Xi Road
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275
China

Guanying Yang

Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) ( email )

135, Xingang Xi Road
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275
China

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