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Daniel-Alexandre Bisson, Peter Dirks, Afsaneh Amirabadi, Manohar M. Shroff, Timo Krings, Vitor Mendes Pereira and Prakash Muthusami


There are little data in the literature on the characteristics and natural history of unruptured intracranial aneurysms in children. The authors analyzed their experience with unruptured intracranial aneurysms in the pediatric population at their tertiary care pediatric institution over the last 18 years. The first objective was to assess the imaging characteristics and natural history of these aneurysms in order to help guide management strategies in the future. A second objective was to evaluate the frequency of an underlying condition when an incidental intracranial aneurysm was detected in a child.


The authors conducted a Research Ethics Board–approved retrospective review of incidental intracranial aneurysms in patients younger than 18 years of age who had been treated at their institution in the period from 1998 to 2016. Clinical (age, sex, syndrome) and radiological (aneurysm location, type, size, thrombus, mass effect) data were recorded. Follow-up imaging was assessed for temporal changes.


Sixty intracranial aneurysms occurred in 51 patients (36 males, 15 females) with a mean age of 10.5 ± 0.5 years (range 9 months–17 years). Forty-five patients (88.2%) had a single aneurysm, while 2 and 3 aneurysms were found in 3 patients each (5.8%). Syndromic association was found in 22 patients (43.1%), most frequently sickle cell disease (10/22 [45.5%]). Aneurysms were saccular in 43 cases (71.7%; mean size 5.0 ± 5.7 mm) and fusiform in the remaining 17 (28.3%; mean size 6.5 ± 2.7 mm). Thirty-one aneurysms (51.7%) arose from the internal carotid artery (right/left 1.4), most commonly in the cavernous segment (10/31 [32.3%]). Mean size change over the entire follow-up of 109 patient-years was a decrease of 0.6 ± 4.2 mm (range −30.0 to +4.0 mm, rate −0.12 ± 9.9 mm/yr). Interval growth (2.0 ± 1.0 mm) was seen in 8 aneurysms (13.3%; 4 saccular, 4 fusiform). An interval decrease in size (8.3 ± 10.7 mm) was seen in 6 aneurysms (10%). There was an inverse relationship between aneurysm size and growth rate (r = −0.82, p < 0.00001). One aneurysm was treated endovascularly with internal carotid artery sacrifice.


Unruptured pediatric intracranial aneurysms are most frequently single but can occur in multiples in a syndromic setting. None of the cases from the study period showed clinical or imaging signs of rupture. Growth over time, although unusual and slow, can occur in a proportion of these patients, who should be identified for short-term imaging surveillance.