Open Access Open Badges Research article

Types of the cerebral arterial circle (circle of Willis) in a Sri Lankan Population

K Ranil D De Silva1*, Rukmal Silva1, Dhammika Amaratunga2, WSL Gunasekera3 and Rohan W Jayesekera4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka

2 Department of Nonclinical Statistics, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Raritan, NJ, USA

3 National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka

4 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neurology 2011, 11:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-5

Published: 17 January 2011



The variations of the circle of Willis (CW) are clinically important as patients with effective collateral circulations have a lower risk of transient ischemic attack and stroke than those with ineffective collaterals. The aim of the present cadaveric study was to investigate the anatomical variations of the CW and to compare the frequency of prevalence of the different variations with previous autopsy studies as variations in the anatomy of the CW as a whole have not been studied in the Indian subcontinent.


The external diameter of all the arteries forming the CW in 225 normal Sri Lankan adult cadaver brains was measured using a calibrated grid to determine the prevalence in the variation in CW. Chisquared tests and a correspondence analysis were performed to compare the relative frequencies of prevalence of anatomical variations in the CW across 6 studies of diverse ethnic populations.


We report 15 types of variations of CW out of 22 types previously described and one additional type: hypoplastic precommunicating part of the anterior cerebral arteries (A1) and contralateral posterior communicating arteries (PcoA) 5(2%). Statistically significant differences (p < 0.0001) were found between most of the studies except for the Moroccan study. An especially notable difference was observed in the following 4 configurations: 1) hypoplastic precommunicating part of the posterior cerebral arteries (P1), and contralateral A1, 2) hypoplastic PcoA and contralateral P1, 3) hypoplastic PcoA, anterior communicating artery (AcoA) and contralateral P1, 4) bilateral hypoplastic P1s and AcoA in a Caucasian dominant study by Fisher versus the rest of the studies.


The present study reveals that there are significant variations in the CW among intra and inter ethnic groups (Caucasian, African and Asian: Iran and Sri Lanka dominant populations), and warrants further studies keeping the methods of measurements, data assessment, and the definitions of hypoplasia the same.