Arteriosclerotic occlusion of the great vessels arising from the aortic arch was initially described by Savory1 in 1856. Hunt,2 in 1914, pointed out that extracranial obstruction of the carotid arteries could cause stroke. Introduction of arteriographic techniques by Egas-Moniz et al3 in 1937 made accurate diagnosis of these lesions possible. Davis et al4 are given credit for first surgically correcting occlusive disease in arteries at their origin from the aortic arch.
In 1960, Contorni5 demonstrated angiographically reversal of blood-flow in the ipsilateral vertebral artery in an asymptomatic patient with occlusion of the first portion of the subclavian and an absent pulse. Reivich et al,6 in 1961, observed a similar phenomenon in two patients who were operated on because of symptoms related to basilar artery insufficiency. In a series of animal experiments, they were able to duplicate and quantitate such reversal of cerebral blood flow.