Previous studies have proposed correlation between variants of the cerebral arterial circle (also known as circle of Willis) and some cerebrovascular diseases. Differences in the incidence of these diseases in different populations have also been investigated. The study of variations in the anatomy of the cerebral arterial circle may partially explain differences in the incidence of some of the cerebrovascular diseases in different ethnic or racial groups.
While many studies have investigated the variations in the anatomy of each segment of the cerebral arterial circle, few have addressed the variants of the cerebral arterial circle as a whole. Similarly, the frequency of occurrence of such variants in different ethnic or racial groups has not been compared.
102 brains of recently deceased Iranian males were dissected, in order to observe variations in the anatomy of the cerebral arterial circle. The dissection process was recorded on film and digitized. One resized picture from each dissection, showing complete circle has been made available online. The variations of the circle as whole and segmental variations were compared with previous studies.
On the whole, the frequencies of the different variants of the entire cerebral arterial circle and segmental variations were comparable with previous studies.
More specifically variants with uni- and bilateral hypoplasia of posterior communicating arteries were the most common in our study, similar to the previous works. No hypoplasia of the precommunicating part of the left anterior cerebral artery (A1), aplasia of A1 or the precommunicating part of the posterior cerebral artery (P1) was seen. In 3% both right and left posterior communcating arteries were absent.
The anatomical variations found in the cerebral arterial circle of the Iranian males in the current study were not significantly different to those of more diverse populations reported in the literature. While taking into account potential confounding factors, the authors conclude that based on available studies, there is no evidence suggesting that the distributions of the variations of cerebral arterial circle differ in different populations.