Cavernous sinus aneurysms: risk of growth over time and risk factors

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Cavernous internal carotid artery (ICA) aneurysms are frequently diagnosed incidentally and the benign natural history of these lesions is well known, but there is limited information assessing the risk of growth in untreated patients. The authors sought to assess and analyze risk factors in patients with cavernous ICA aneurysms and compare them to those of patients with intracranial berry aneurysms in other locations.


Data from consecutive patients who were diagnosed with a cavernous ICA aneurysm were retrospectively reviewed. The authors evaluated patients for the incidence of cavernous ICA aneurysm growth and rupture. In addition, the authors analyzed risk factors for cavernous ICA aneurysm growth and compared them to risk factors in a population of patients diagnosed with intracranial berry aneurysms in locations other than the cavernous ICA during the same period.


In 194 patients with 208 cavernous ICA aneurysms, the authors found a high risk of aneurysm growth (19.2% per patient-year) in patients with large/giant aneurysms. Size was significantly associated with higher risk of growth. Compared to patients with intracranial berry aneurysms in other locations, patients with cavernous ICA aneurysms were significantly more likely to be female and have a lower incidence of hypertension.


Aneurysms of the cavernous ICA are benign lesions with a negligible risk of rupture but a definite risk of growth. Aneurysm size was found to be associated with aneurysm growth, which can be associated with new onset of symptoms. Serial follow-up imaging of a cavernous ICA aneurysm might be indicated to monitor for asymptomatic growth, especially in patients with larger lesions.

ABBREVIATIONS ICA = internal carotid artery; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Article Information

Correspondence Giuseppe Lanzino: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online January 11, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2018.8.JNS182029.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.




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