Relationship of brainstem infarction to rupture of nonsaccular vertebrobasilar aneurysms

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery,
  • 2 Neurology, and
  • 3 Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
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OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic nonsaccular vertebrobasilar aneurysms (NSVBAs) are associated with high rates of aneurysm-related death. Anecdotal evidence suggests that brainstem infarction may be a harbinger of aneurysm rupture. The authors aimed to investigate the association between brainstem infarction and subsequent NSVBA rupture.

METHODS

The clinical records and radiographic imaging studies of patients presenting to the authors’ institution between 1996 and 2019 for evaluation and management of an NSVBA were retrospectively reviewed to determine the effect of perforating artery infarction on the natural history of NSVBAs. Kaplan-Meier curves for patients with and patients without perforator infarction were constructed, and predictors of aneurysm rupture were identified using a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model.

RESULTS

There were 98 patients with 591.3 person-years of follow-up who met the inclusion criteria for analysis. There were 20 patients who experienced perforator infarction during follow-up. Ten patients (10.2%) experienced aneurysm rupture during follow-up and 26 patients (26.5%) died due to aneurysm-related complications, with annual rates of rupture and aneurysm-related death of 1.7% and 4.4%, respectively. Five patients with a perforator infarction later experienced aneurysm rupture, with a median time between infarction and rupture of 3 months (range 0–35 months). On multivariate analysis, the presence of intraaneurysmal thrombus (risk ratio [RR] 4.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12–14.44, p = 0.033) and perforator infarction (RR 6.37, 95% CI 1.07–37.95, p = 0.042) were independently associated with risk of aneurysm rupture.

CONCLUSIONS

NSVBAs continue to be extremely challenging clinical entities with a poor prognosis. These results suggest that brainstem infarction due to perforating artery occlusion may be a harbinger of near-term aneurysm rupture.

ABBREVIATIONS CI = confidence interval; NSVBA = nonsaccular vertebrobasilar aneurysm; RR = risk ratio.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Fig. 1 and Table 1 (PDF 1,384 KB)

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Lorenzo Rinaldo: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. rinaldo.lorenzo@mayo.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online April 23, 2021; DOI: 10.3171/2020.9.JNS201937.

Disclosures Dr. Lanzino reports being a consultant for Superior Medical Editing and Nested Knowledge.

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