Vertebrobasilar dissecting aneurysms: microsurgical management in 42 patients

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
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OBJECTIVE

Vertebrobasilar dissecting (VBD) aneurysms are rare, and patients with these aneurysms often present with thromboembolic infarcts or subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The morphological nature of VBD aneurysms often precludes conventional clip reconstruction or coil placement and encourages parent artery exclusion or endovascular stenting. Treatment considerations include aneurysm location along the vertebral artery (VA), the involvement of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA), and collateral blood flow. Outcomes after endovascular treatment have been well described in the neurosurgical literature, but microsurgical outcomes have not been detailed. Patient outcomes from a large, single-surgeon, consecutive series of microsurgically managed VBD aneurysms are presented, and 3 illustrative case examples are provided.

METHODS

The medical records of patients with dissecting aneurysms affecting the intracranial VA (V4), basilar artery, and PICA that were treated microsurgically over a 19-year period were reviewed. Patient demographics, aneurysm characteristics, surgical procedures, and clinical outcomes (according to modified Rankin Scale [mRS] scores at last follow-up) were analyzed.

RESULTS

Forty-two patients with 42 VBD aneurysms were identified. Twenty-six aneurysms (62%) involved the PICA, 14 (33%) were distinct from the PICA origin on the V4 segment of the VA, and 2 (5%) were located at the vertebrobasilar junction. Thirty-four patients (81%) presented with SAH with a mean Hunt and Hess grade of 3.2 at presentation. Six (14%) of the 42 patients had been previously treated using endovascular techniques. Nineteen aneurysms (45%) underwent clip wrapping, 17 (40%) were treated with bypass trapping, and 6 (14%) underwent parent artery sacrifice. The complete aneurysm obliteration rate was 95% (n = 40), and the surgical complication rate was 7% (n = 3). The 8 patients with unruptured VBD aneurysms were significantly more likely to be discharged home (n = 6, 75%) compared with 34 patients with ruptured aneurysms (n = 9, 27%; p = 0.01). Good outcomes (mRS score ≤ 2) were observed in 20 patients (48%). Eight patients (19%) died.

CONCLUSIONS

These data demonstrate that patients with VBD aneurysms often present after a rupture in poor neurological condition, but favorable results can be achieved with open microsurgical repair in almost half of such cases. Microsurgery remains a viable treatment option, with the choice between bypass trapping and clip wrapping largely dictated by the specific location of the aneurysm and its relationship to the PICA.

ABBREVIATIONS

ICG = indocyanine green; mRS = modified Rankin Scale; OA = occipital artery; PED = Pipeline embolization device; PICA = posterior inferior cerebellar artery; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; V4 = intracranial VA; VA = vertebral artery; VBD = vertebrobasilar dissecting; VBJ = vertebrobasilar junction.

Supplementary Materials

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Images from Minchev et al. (pp 479–488).

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