Collateral blood supply through the ophthalmic artery: a steal phenomenon analyzed by color Doppler imaging

Ophthalmology. 1998 Apr;105(4):689-93. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(98)94025-8.


Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the retrobulbar circulatory effects of reversed ophthalmic artery flow (ROAF) on the ophthalmic artery branches by means of color Doppler imaging.

Design: The design was a case-controlled study.

Participants: Among 56 consecutive patients with severe (>70% stenosis) occlusive carotid artery disease, 15 patients (26.8%) with ROAF were identified. The control group consisted of 15 patients with similar degrees of carotid artery stenosis and forward ophthalmic artery flow.

Intervention: Arteriography and measurement of the retrobulbar hemodynamic parameters with color Doppler imaging were performed.

Main outcome measures: Blood flow velocities and resistive index in the ophthalmic, central retinal, and temporal short posterior ciliary arteries were measured.

Results: Arteriography confirmed the diagnosis of ROAF in all 15 patients. There was no patient with ROAF diagnosed by arteriography and not diagnosed by color Doppler imaging. The frequency of bilateral severe occlusive carotid artery disease was significantly higher in the ROAF group (40%) compared to the control group (6.6%) (P = 0.04). Patients with ROAF showed significantly reduced vascular resistance in the ophthalmic artery (P = 0.03), higher vascular resistance, and lower blood flow velocities in the central retinal and temporal short posterior ciliary arteries (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: This study suggests that patients with ROAF show a steal phenomenon, characterized by a shunt to the low-resistance intracranial circuit and reduction of retrobulbar blood flow.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / physiopathology*
  • Carotid Stenosis / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Ciliary Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Ciliary Arteries / physiopathology
  • Collateral Circulation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Ophthalmic Artery / physiopathology*
  • Retinal Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Retinal Artery / physiopathology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color*