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Aichi Chien, Feng Liang, James Sayre, Noriko Salamon, Pablo Villablanca, and Fernando Viñuela

Object

This study was performed to investigate the risk factors related to the growth of small, asymptomatic, unruptured aneurysms in patients with no history of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).

Methods

Between January 2005 and December 2010, a total of 508 patients in whom unruptured intracranial aneurysms were diagnosed at the University of California, Los Angeles medical center did not receive treatment to prevent rupture. Of these, 235 patients with no history of SAH who had asymptomatic, small, unruptured aneurysms (< 7 mm) were monitored with 3D CT angiography images. Follow-up images of the lesions were used to measure aneurysm size changes. Patient medical history, family history of SAH, aneurysm size, and location were studied to find the risk factors associated with small aneurysm growth.

Results

A total of 319 small aneurysms were included, with follow-up durations of 29.2 ± 20.6 months. Forty-two aneurysms increased in size during the follow-up; 5 aneurysms grew to become ≥ 7 mm within 38.2 ± 18.3 months. A trend of higher growth rates was found in single aneurysms than in multiple aneurysms (p = 0.07). A history of stroke was the only factor associated with single aneurysm growth (p = 0.03). The number of aneurysms (p = 0.011), number of aneurysms located within the posterior circulation (p = 0.030), and patient history of transient ischemic attack (p = 0.044) were related to multiple aneurysm growth.

Conclusions

Multiple small aneurysms are more likely to grow, and multiple aneurysms located in the posterior circulation may require additional attention. Although single aneurysms have a lower risk of growth, a trend of higher growth rates in single aneurysms was found.

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Aichi Chien, Rashida A. Callender, Hajime Yokota, Noriko Salamon, Geoffrey P. Colby, Anthony C. Wang, Viktor Szeder, Reza Jahan, Satoshi Tateshima, Juan Villablanca, Gary Duckwiler, Fernando Vinuela, Yuanqing Ye, and Michelle A. T. Hildebrandt

OBJECTIVE

As imaging technology has improved, more unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs) are detected incidentally. However, there is limited information regarding how UIAs change over time to provide stratified, patient-specific UIA follow-up management. The authors sought to enrich understanding of the natural history of UIAs and identify basic UIA growth trajectories, that is, the speed at which various UIAs increase in size.

METHODS

From January 2005 to December 2015, 382 patients diagnosed with UIAs (n = 520) were followed up at UCLA Medical Center through serial imaging. UIA characteristics and patient-specific variables were studied to identify risk factors associated with aneurysm growth and create a predicted aneurysm trajectory (PAT) model to differentiate aneurysm growth behavior.

RESULTS

The PAT model indicated that smoking and hypothyroidism had a large effect on the growth rate of large UIAs (≥ 7 mm), while UIAs < 7 mm were less influenced by smoking and hypothyroidism. Analysis of risk factors related to growth showed that initial size and multiplicity were significant factors related to aneurysm growth and were consistent across different definitions of growth. A 1.09-fold increase in risk of growth was found for every 1-mm increase in initial size (95% CI 1.04–1.15; p = 0.001). Aneurysms in patients with multiple aneurysms were 2.43-fold more likely to grow than those in patients with single aneurysms (95% CI 1.36–4.35; p = 0.003). The growth rate (speed) for large UIAs (≥ 7 mm; 0.085 mm/month) was significantly faster than that for UIAs < 3 mm (0.030 mm/month) and for males than for females (0.089 and 0.045 mm/month, respectively; p = 0.048).

CONCLUSIONS

Analyzing longitudinal UIA data as continuous data points can be useful to study the risk of growth and predict the aneurysm growth trajectory. Individual patient characteristics (demographics, behavior, medical history) may have a significant effect on the speed of UIA growth, and predictive models such as PAT may help optimize follow-up frequency for UIA management.