The exact pathophysiological mechanisms underlying cerebral aneurysm formation remain unclear. Asymmetrical local vascular geometry may play a role in aneurysm formation and progression. The object of this study was to investigate the association between the geometric asymmetry of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) and the presence of MCA aneurysms and associated high-risk features.
Using a retrospective case-control study design, the authors examined MCA anatomy in all patients who had been diagnosed with an MCA aneurysm in the period from 2008 to 2017 at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Geometric features of the MCA ipsilateral to MCA aneurysms were compared with those of the unaffected contralateral side (secondary control group). Then, MCA geometry was compared between patients with MCA aneurysms and patients who had undergone CTA for suspected vascular pathology but were ultimately found to have normal intracranial vasculature (primary control group). Parent vessel and aneurysm morphological parameters were measured, calculated, and compared between case and control groups. Associations between geometric parameters and high-risk aneurysm features were identified.
The authors included 247 patients (158 cases and 89 controls) in the study. The aneurysm study group consisted of significantly more women and smokers than the primary control group. Patients with MCA bifurcation aneurysms had lower parent artery inflow angles (p = 0.01), lower parent artery tortuosity (p < 0.01), longer parent artery total length (p = 0.03), and a significantly greater length difference between ipsilateral and contralateral prebifurcation MCAs (p < 0.01) than those in primary controls. Type 2 MCA aneurysms (n = 89) were more likely to be associated with dome irregularity or a daughter sac and were more likely to have a higher cumulative total of high-risk features than type 1 MCA aneurysms (n = 69).
Data in this study demonstrated that a greater degree of parent artery asymmetry for MCA aneurysms is associated with high-risk features. The authors also found that the presence of a long and less tortuous parent artery upstream of an MCA aneurysm is a common phenotype that is associated with a higher risk profile. The aneurysm parameters are easily measurable and are novel radiographic biomarkers for aneurysm risk assessment.