The Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial (BRAT) was a single-center trial that compared endovascular coiling to microsurgical clipping in patients treated for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH). However, because patients in the BRAT were treated more than 15 years ago, and because there have been advances since then—particularly in endovascular techniques—the relevance of the BRAT today remains controversial. Some hypothesize that these technical advances may reduce retreatment rates for endovascular intervention. In this study, the authors analyzed data for the post-BRAT (PBRAT) era to compare microsurgical clipping with endovascular embolization (coiling and flow diverters) in the two time periods and to examine how the results of the original BRAT have influenced the practice of neurosurgeons at the study institution.
In this retrospective cohort study, the authors evaluated patients with saccular aSAHs who were treated at a single quaternary center from August 1, 2007, to July 31, 2019. The saccular aSAH diagnoses were confirmed by cerebrovascular experts. Patients were separated into two cohorts for comparison on the basis of having undergone microsurgery or endovascular intervention. The primary outcome analyzed for comparison was poor neurological outcome, defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score > 2. The secondary outcomes that were compared included retreatment rates for both therapies.
Of the 1014 patients with aSAH during the study period, 798 (79%) were confirmed to have saccular aneurysms. Neurological outcomes at ≥ 1-year follow-up did not differ between patients treated with microsurgery (n = 451) and those who received endovascular (n = 347) treatment (p = 0.51). The number of retreatments was significantly higher among patients treated endovascularly (32/347, 9%) than among patients treated microsurgically (6/451, 1%) (p < 0.001). The retreatment rate after endovascular treatment was lower in the PBRAT era (9%) than in the BRAT (18%).
Similar to results from the BRAT, results from the PBRAT era showed equivalent neurological outcomes and increased rates of retreatment among patients undergoing endovascular embolization compared with those undergoing microsurgery. However, the rate of retreatment after endovascular intervention was much lower in the PBRAT era than in the BRAT.