Clip-first policy versus coil-first policy for the exclusion of middle cerebral artery aneurysms

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Middle cerebral artery (MCA) aneurysms are a particular subset of intracranial aneurysms that can be excluded by clipping or coiling. A comparison of the results between these two methods is often limited by a selection bias in which wide-neck and large aneurysms are frequently treated with surgery. Here, the authors report the results of two centers using opposing policies in the management of MCA aneurysms: one center used a clip-first policy while the other used a coil-first policy, which limited the selection bias and ensured a good comparison of these two treatment modalities.


All patients treated for either ruptured or unruptured MCA aneurysms at one of two institutions between January 2012 and December 2015 were eligible for inclusion in this study. At one center a clip-first policy was applied, whereas the other applied a coil-first policy. The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of these patients and compared their clinical and radiological outcomes.


A total of 187 aneurysms were treated during the inclusion period; 88 aneurysms were treated by coiling and 99 aneurysms by clipping. The baseline patient and radiological characteristics were similar between the two groups, but the clinical presentation of the ruptured aneurysm cohort differed slightly. In the ruptured cohort (n = 90), although patients in the coiling group had a higher rate of additional surgery, the complication rate, functional outcome, and risk of death were similar between the two treatment groups. In the unruptured cohort (n = 97), the complication rate, functional outcome, and risk of death were also similar between the two treatment groups, although the risk of discomfort related to the temporal muscle atrophy was higher in the surgical group. Overall, the rate of complete occlusion was higher in the clipping group (84.2%) than in the coiling group (31%), which led to a higher risk in the coiling group of aneurysm retreatment within the first 2 years (p = 0.04).


Clipping and coiling for MCA aneurysm treatment provide the same clinical outcome for ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. However, clipping provides higher short- and long-term rates of complete exclusion, which in turn decreases the risk of aneurysm retreatment. Whether this lower occlusion rate can have a clinical impact in the long-term must be further evaluated.

ABBREVIATIONS EVD = external ventricular drain; GCS = Glasgow Coma Scale; IA = intracranial aneurysm; MCA = middle cerebral artery; mRS = modified Rankin Scale; RCT = randomized controlled trial; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; WFNS = World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Thomas Gaberel: CHU de Caen, France. EDITORIAL DOI: 10.3171/2019.6.JNS191280.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online September 20, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.5.JNS19373.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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