Basilar Artery Blood Flow in Subclavian Steal

Natan M. Bornstein, Adam Krajewski, John W. Norris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subclavian “steal”, when blood siphons from one vertebral artery to the other, has been suggested as a cause of brain stem ischaemia and stroke. We investigated 33 patients using transcranial Doppler to determine the direction and velocity of basilar blood flow. All patients had severe subclavian stenosis with reversed vertebral blood flow in the ipsilateral artery previously demonstrated by extracranial Doppler. Basilar flow was normal in direction in all cases, but its velocity was significantly increased (p<0.0008) compared to age- and sex-matched controls. These findings, in conjunction with previous observations using extracranial Doppler techniques, suggest that subclavian steal is little more than a harmless haemodynamic phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-419
Number of pages3
JournalCanadian Journal of Neurological Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1988
Externally publishedYes


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