Research article

BMC Neurology

, 13:81

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

An ultrasound model to calculate the brain blood outflow through collateral vessels: a pilot study

  • Paolo ZamboniAffiliated withVascular Diseases Center, University of Ferrara Email author 
  • , Francesco SisiniAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Ferrara
  • , Erica MenegattiAffiliated withVascular Diseases Center, University of Ferrara
  • , Angelo TaibiAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Ferrara
  • , Anna Maria MalagoniAffiliated withVascular Diseases Center, University of Ferrara
  • , Sandra MorovicAffiliated withAviva Medical Centre
  • , Mauro GambacciniAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Ferrara



The quantification of the flow returning from the head through the cervical veins and the collaterals of the internal jugular vein (IJV), is becoming of prominent interest in clinical practice. We developed a novel model to calculate the cerebral venous return, normalized to the arterial inflow, in the different segments of the IJV.


We assessed, by established Echo Colour Doppler (ECD) methodology, the head inflow (HBinF) defined as the sum of common carotids and vertebral arteries, as well as the cerebral flow (CBF) defined as the sum of internal carotid and vertebral arteries. We also assessed the head outflow (HBoutF) defined as the sum of the measurements at the junction of the IJV and the vertebral veins. In addition, we also calculated the collateral flow index (CFI) by estimating the flow which re-enters directly into the superior vena cava as the amount of blood extrapolated by the difference between the HBinF and the HBoutF. We preliminarily tested the model by comparing ten healthy controls (HC) with ten patients affected by chronic cerebral spinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), a condition characterized by some blockages in the IJV which are bypassed by collateral circulation.


In HC the HBinF was 956+-105ml/min, whereas the HBoutF was > 90% of the HBinF, leading to a final CFI value of 1%. The last result shows that a very small amount of blood is drained by the collaterals. In upright we confirmed a reduction of the outflow through the IJV which increased CFI to 9%. When we applied the model to CCSVI, the HBinF was not significantly different from controls. In supine, the flow of CCSVI patients in the IJV junction was significantly lower (p < 0.001) while the correspondent CFI value significantly increased (61%, p < 0.0002).


Our preliminary application of the novel model in the clinical setting suggests the pivotal role of the collateral network in draining the blood into the superior vena cava under CCSVI condition.


Chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency CCSVI Internal jugular vein IJV Echo colour doppler Model Ultrasound Haemodynamics Cerebral outflow