Noninvasive determination of language lateralization by functional transcranial Doppler sonography: a comparison with the Wada test

Stroke. 1998 Jan;29(1):82-6. doi: 10.1161/01.str.29.1.82.


Background and purpose: Functional transcranial Doppler ultrasonography (fTCD) can assess event-related changes in cerebral blood flow velocities and, by comparison between sides, can provide a measure of hemispheric perfusional lateralization. It is easily applicable, insensitive to movement artifacts, and can be used in patients with less than perfect cooperation. In the present study we investigated the validity of fTCD in determining the hemispheric dominance for language by direct comparison of fTCD with intracarotid amobarbital anesthesia (Wada test).

Methods: fTCD and the Wada test were performed in 19 patients evaluated for epilepsy surgery. By the Wada test, 13 patients were classified as left-hemisphere dominant and 6 as right-hemisphere dominant for language. fTCD was based on the continuous bilateral measurements of blood flow velocities in the middle cerebral arteries and event-related averaging during a cued word generation task previously shown to activate lateralized language areas in normal adults.

Results: In 4 patients fTCD assessment was not possible because of lack of an acoustic temporal bone window. In the remaining 15 candidates, determination of language dominance was concordant with the Wada test in every case. Moreover, the correlation of the lateralization measures from both procedures was highly significant (r=.92, P<.0001).

Conclusions: This strong correlation validates fTCD as a noninvasive and practical tool for the determination of language lateralization that can be applied for clinical and investigative purposes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amobarbital* / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, General* / administration & dosage
  • Artifacts
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal
  • Cerebral Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Cues
  • Dominance, Cerebral / drug effects
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Echoencephalography*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / surgery
  • Female
  • GABA Modulators* / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Arterial
  • Language Tests
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial*


  • Anesthetics, General
  • GABA Modulators
  • Amobarbital