Aim: To investigate the morphology and variation of the circle of Willis (COW) in healthy Chinese male adults.
Materials and methods: We analyzed cerebral magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) images of 2,246 healthy subjects using typical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MRA. 3D-time of flight (TOF) MRA method was applied to all subjects and the classification was therefore achieved according to the integrity level of COW and the developmental situation of vessels.
Results: The overall incidence of COW integrity was 12.24%, with 7.57% nonvariation integral COW. The incidences of partial integrity and nonintegrity were 70.17% and 17.59%, respectively. The integrity rate of anterior circulation was 78.58%, with a close correlation with A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery (ACA-A1) developmental condition. The developmental variation rate of ACA-A1 was 28.23% and the variation of the right side was higher than that of the left side. The nonintegrity rate of posterior circulation was 83.93% as the hypoplasia of P1 segment of the posterior cerebral artery (PCA-P1) with an incidence rate of 15.85% for PCA-P1 variation.
Conclusions: The COW variation is a common phenomenon among the healthy subjects. MRA could enable reflecting the physiological morphology of COW in a comprehensive manner.