Characterization of volumetric flow rate waveforms in the normal internal carotid and vertebral arteries

Matthew D. Ford, Noam Alperin, Hoon Lee Sung, David W. Holdsworth, David A. Steinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


Knowledge of normal cerebrovascular volumetric flow rate (VFR) dynamics is of interest for establishing baselines, and for providing input data to cerebrovascular model studies. Retrospectively gated phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure time-resolved VFR waveforms from the two internal carotid arteries (ICA) and two vertebral arteries (VA) of 17 young, normal volunteers (16M:1F) at rest in a supine posture. After normalizing each waveform to its respective cycle-averaged VFR, the timing and amplitude of feature points from the individual waveforms were averaged together to produce archetypal ICA and VA waveform shapes. Despite significant inter-individual differences in cycle-averaged VFR within the ICA compared to VA (275 ± 52 versus 91 ± 18 mL min-1), the respective waveform shapes were qualitatively similar overall. The VA waveform shape did, however, exhibit significantly higher amplitudes (e.g., peak:average VFR of 1.78 ± 0.30 versus 1.66 ± 0.16; p < 0.05) and significantly higher variability both between and within subjects. A significant correlation was observed between peak and cycle-averaged VFR, suggesting that the representative waveform shapes presented here - when scaled by an individual's cycle-averaged VFR - may be used to characterize normal ICA and VA flow rate dynamics. This capability may be of particular utility for studies where cerebrovascular flow dynamics are required, but only average flow rates are available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-488
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotid artery
  • Human studies
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Vertebral artery
  • Volumetric flow rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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