Clinical Applicability of Assessment of Jugular Flow over the Individual Cardiac Cycle Compared with Current Ultrasound Methodology

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2016 Aug;42(8):1750-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2016.03.002. Epub 2016 Apr 20.


There is growing interest in measuring cerebral venous outflow with ultrasound (US). However, results obtained with the current US Doppler methodology, which uses just a single value of cross-sectional area (CSA) of the vessel, are highly variable and inconclusive. The product of CSA and time-averaged velocity in the case of pulsatile vessels may be a possible source of error, particularly for a pulsatile vein like the internal jugular vein (IJV), where the cardiac pump transmits a sequence of well-established waves along the conduit. We herein propose a novel technique for US IJV flow assessment that accurately accounts for IJV CSA variations during the cardiac cycle. Five subjects were investigated with a high-resolution real-time B-mode video, synchronized with an electrocardiography trace. In this approach, CSA variations representing the pulsatility of the IJV are overlapped with the velocity curve obtained by the usual spectral Doppler trace. The overlap is then phased point by point using the electrocardiography pacemaker. This allows us to experimentally measure the velocity variation in relation to the change in CSA precisely, ultimately enabling calculation of IJV flow. (i) The sequence of CSA variation with respect to the electrocardiography waves corresponds exactly to the jugular venous pulse as measured in physiology. (ii) The methodology permits us to phase the velocity and CSA, which is ultimately what is currently lacking to precisely calculate the flow in the IJV with US. (iii) The time-averaged flow, calculated with the described technique, is very close to that calculated assuming a constant IJV CSA, whereas the time-dependent flow shows differs as much as 40%. (iv) Finally, we tested the accuracy of the technique with a methodology that may allow for universal assessment of the accuracy of each personal US-based evaluation of flow rate.

Keywords: Internal jugular vein; Jugular venous flow; Jugular venous pulse.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Electrocardiography / methods*
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Jugular Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Jugular Veins / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods