Object. Most reports of series on ruptured intracranial aneurysms contain information on select intraoperative complications. An understanding of all surgical complications, however, may guide us toward improved surgical procedures and enrich discussions concerning alternative management strategies, such as endovascular treatment, which are not exempt from complications and aneurysm recurrence.
Methods. The study consists of a retrospective review of the charts, images, and notes from follow-up visits of 143 consecutive patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who were surgically treated during a 3-year period by one neurosurgeon. A surgical complication was determined based on findings of a clinical and/or radiological study in the absence of confounding factors such as the initial SAH ictus, vasospasm, hydrocephalus, and septic status. Functional outcome was assessed between 2 and 3 months post-SAH by using the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS). A procedure-related surgical complication was diagnosed in 29 (20.3%) of 143 patients studied. A brain tissue injury, including cerebral edema and hemorrhagic contusions, was diagnosed in 6.3% of patients, an unpredicted residual aneurysm neck in 5.3% of patients, and a cranial nerve deficit in 2.8% of patients. Functional outcome was good in 22 (75.9%) of the 29 patients with surgical complications. Death due to a surgical complication occurred in one (0.7%) of 143 patients.
Conclusions. Surgical complications are more prevalent than previously thought. They may have been overlooked previously because of the high percentage of good functional outcomes and low mortality rates in this group. The identification of surgical complications may encourage the search for solutions to improve surgical treatment of aneurysmal SAH.