Original Article| Volume 24, ISSUE 8, P1749-1754, August 2015

The Circle of Willis and White Matter Lesions in Patients with Carotid Atherosclerosis


      The correlation between cerebral atherosclerosis and white matter lesions (WMLs) in the elderly was controversial in the published articles, where the stenosis was often evaluated by ultrasonography, computed tomography angiography, or magnetic resonance angiography and collaterals were seldom considered. We hypothesized that collaterals influence WMLs. Our study was to explore the relationship between the circle of Willis and WMLs in a retrospective, hospital-based cohort of patients with carotid atherosclerosis.


      Two hundred eighty-six patients with carotid atherosclerosis were enrolled from the Nanjing Stroke Registry. They underwent magnetic resonance imaging evaluating WMLs and digital subtraction angiography evaluating both carotid atherosclerosis and collateral capacity of the circle of Willis. We tested the association between severe carotid atherosclerosis, the circle of Willis, and WMLs by logistic regression analysis.


      Severity of carotid atherosclerosis was not significantly associated with either periventricular or deep WMLs (P = .656 and .566, respectively). Number of carotid arteries with severe stenosis was not associated with the severity of either periventricular or deep WMLs (P = .721 and .263, respectively). Patency of the communicating arteries (CoA) was not associated with periventricular or deep WMLs (P = .561 and .703, respectively). Advanced age and hypertension were associated with periventricular WMLs (P = .001 and .008, respectively). Advanced age, hypertension, and prior stroke were associated with deep WMLs (P = .049, .048, and .001, respectively).


      The circle of Willis and severe carotid atherosclerosis may not be related to WMLs. Further larger studies are warranted to confirm or refute our findings.

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