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Tim W. Malisch, Guido Guglielmi, Fernando Viñuela, Gary Duckwiler, Y. Pierre Gobin, Neil A. Martin, John G. Frazee, and Joan S. Chmiel

Object. Embolization of intracranial aneurysms by using Guglielmi detachable coils (GDCs) is proving to be a safe method of protecting aneurysms from rupture. Occasionally, patients with unruptured intracranial aneurysms present with symptoms related to the aneurysm's mass effect on either the brain parenchyma or cranial nerves. In the present study, the authors conducted a retrospective review to evaluate the response to GDC embolization in a series of 19 patients presenting with cranial nerve dysfunction due to mass effect.

Methods. Aneurysms were classified by size, shape, wall calcification, and amount of intraluminal thrombus. Patients were classified by duration of symptoms prior to GDC treatment (range < 1 month to > 10 years). Clinical assessment was performed within days of the GDC procedure and at later follow-up appointments (range 1–70 months, mean 24 months).

In the immediate post-GDC period, four patients experienced worsening of cranial nerve deficits. Two of the four patients had transient worsening of visual acuity, which later improved to better than baseline status. Another patient who had presented with headache and seventh and eighth cranial nerve deficits from a vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm had improvement in these symptoms, but developed a new diplopia. The fourth patient had worsening of her visual acuity, which had not resolved at the 1-month follow-up examination; this patient later underwent surgical decompression.

Conclusions. On late follow-up review, the response was classified as complete resolution of symptoms in six patients (32%), improvement in eight patients (42%), no significant change in four patients (21%), and symptom worsening in one patient (5%). Patients with smaller aneurysms and those with shorter pretreatment duration of symptoms were more likely to experience an improvement in their symptoms following GDC treatment, although statistical significance was not reached in this series (p = 0.603 and p = 0.111, respectively). The presence of aneurysmal wall calcification (six patients) or intraluminal thrombus (12 patients) showed no correlation with the response of mass effect symptoms in these patients.