The vertebral artery ascends posterior to the carotid artery in the transverse foramina of the cervical vertebrae and it is divided into four anatomical segments.
A linear transducer frequency of 7-10 MHz is used, while a convex transducer frequency of 2-3 MHz can be employed when it is necessary a deeper and wider field of view as in the case of a short and thick neck and for the imaging of the origin and of the proximal segment of the artery.
After a longitudinal scan of the carotid artery we rotate the probe laterally, so we see the acoustic shadow caused by the transverse processes through which the vertebral artery appears.
The vertebral artery can/should be examined throughout the course but, for anatomical characteristics, cannot be studied with the same accuracy of the carotid artery.
Transverse scan is useful to study the V0-V1-V3 segments.
Usually, the vertebral artery is characterized by a Doppler spectrum with a high diastolic velocity ("low resistance" flow) and the peak systolic velocity varies from 20 to 40 cm/sec.
In this lesson the methodology of the echocolor Doppler study of the extracranial vertebral artery is presented.
Franco Accorsi, MD
Member of the Order of Physician of Bologna n° 6728
I am a specialist in Medical Angiology and I am based in Bologna, Italy. Until 2008 (voluntary resignation) I worked at Maggiore Hospital in Bologna as "Dirigente Medico" in the Department of Internal Medicine and as Angiologist in the Angiology Unit with a position of "Alta Professionalità" in "Vascular Ecography and Angiology".
I am currently working in Bologna as an independent professional in the areas of angiology and vascular diagnostics.
I have been a speaker at national and international courses/congress and I have taught duplex ultrasound method in GIUV and SIUMB courses at the Maggiore Hospital, Bologna and courses of echocolor Doppler of extracranial and intracranial arteries at the Stroke Unit of S. Maria Nuova Hospital, Reggio Emilia.