Treatment of posterior circulation fusiform aneurysms

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery and
  • 2 Radiology, and Stanford Stroke Center; and
  • 3 Quantitative Sciences Unit, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
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OBJECTIVE

Perforator arteries, the absence of an aneurysm discrete neck, and the often-extensive nature of posterior circulation fusiform aneurysms present treatment challenges. There have been advances in microsurgical and endovascular approaches, including flow diversion, and the authors sought to review these treatments in a long-term series at their neurovascular referral center.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review from 1990 to 2018. Primary outcomes were modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores and Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) scores at follow-up. The authors also examined neurological complication rates. Using regression techniques, they reviewed independent and dependent variables, including presenting features, aneurysm location and size, surgical approach, and pretreatment and posttreatment thrombosis.

RESULTS

Eighty-four patients met the inclusion criteria. Their mean age was 53 years, and 49 (58%) were female. Forty-one (49%) patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage. Aneurysms were located on the vertebral artery (VA) or posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) in 50 (60%) patients, basilar artery (BA) or vertebrobasilar junction (VBJ) in 22 (26%), and posterior cerebral artery (PCA) in 12 (14%). Thirty-one (37%) patients were treated with microsurgical and 53 (63%) with endovascular approaches. Six aneurysms were treated with endovascular flow diversion. The authors found moderate disability or better (mRS score ≤ 3) in 85% of the patients at a mean 14-month follow-up. The GOS score was ≥ 4 in 82% of the patients. The overall neurological complication rate was 12%. In the regression analysis, patients with VA or PICA aneurysms had better functional outcomes than the other groups (p < 0.001). Endovascular strategies were associated with better outcomes for BA-VBJ aneurysms (p < 0.01), but microsurgery was associated with better outcomes for VA-PICA and PCA aneurysms (p < 0.05). There were no other significant associations between patient, aneurysm characteristics, or treatment features and neurological complications (p > 0.05). Patients treated with flow diversion had more complications than those who underwent other endovascular and microsurgical strategies, but the difference was not significant in regression models.

CONCLUSIONS

Posterior circulation fusiform aneurysms remain a challenging aneurysm subtype, but an interdisciplinary treatment approach can result in good outcomes. While flow diversion is a useful addition to the armamentarium, traditional endovascular and microsurgical techniques continue to offer effective options.

ABBREVIATIONS BA = basilar artery; GOS = Glasgow Outcome Scale; ICA = internal carotid artery; mRS = modified Rankin Scale; PCA = posterior cerebral artery; PICA = posterior inferior cerebellar artery; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; VA = vertebral artery; VBJ = vertebrobasilar junction.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Gary K. Steinberg: Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA. gsteinberg@stanford.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online July 24, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2020.4.JNS192838.

Disclosures Dr. Heit reports being a consultant for MicroVention and Medtronic. Dr. Steinberg reports being a consultant for Qool Therapeutics, Peter Lazic US, NeuroSave, SanBio, Zeiss, and Surgical Theater.

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