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Endovascular management of intracranial vertebral artery dissecting aneurysms

Felipe C. Albuquerque, David J. Fiorella, Patrick P. Han, Vivek R. Deshmukh, Louis J. Kim, and Cameron G. Mcdougall


Intracranial vertebral artery (VA) dissecting aneurysms often present with severe subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and dramatic neurological injury. The authors reviewed the management of 23 cases in an effort to evaluate treatment efficacy and outcomes.


The records of 23 patients who underwent endovascular treatment were reviewed to determine symptoms, type of therapy, complications, and clinical outcomes. All patients were evaluated using records kept in a prospectively maintained database.

Ten men and 13 women (age range 35–72 years; mean age 49 years) were treated over an 8-year period. Twelve patients presented with poor-grade SAH, five with good-grade SAH, three with headache, and two with stroke. The other patient's aneurysm was discovered incidentally. Treatment included coil occlusion of the artery at the aneurysm in 21 patients and stent-assisted coil placement in two. Parent artery sacrifice was successful in all cases, whereas both patients treated with stent-assisted coil insertion suffered recurrences. No patient sustained permanent complications as a result of treatment. Two patients died due to the severity of their original SAH. Findings were normal in 14 patients on follow-up review (including five of the 12 presenting with poor-grade SAH), five had fixed neurological deficits but were able to care for themselves, and one was permanently disabled.


Despite their often aggressive neurological presentation, intracranial VA dissecting aneurysms can be managed safely with coil occlusion of the lesion and/or parent artery. Even patients presenting in poor neurological condition may improve dramatically.