✓ A retrospective angiographic analysis was designed to extrapolate the frequency of angiographically defined asymptomatic intracranial aneurysms in the anterior circulation from a relatively unbiased clinical series. A total of 9295 angiograms were reviewed from January, 1980, to January, 1987, and, based on these, 278 patients with minimal bias for the presence of an aneurysm were selected. Three patients were found to have incidental aneurysms; thus, the angiographic frequency of patients with asymptomatic aneurysms in this series was 1%. This patient population is skewed toward the older age groups and probably over-represents the incidence of these aneurysms in the population at large. Comparing current subarachnoid hemorrhage statistics and the low frequency of asymptomatic aneurysms suggests that a larger percentage of these aneurysms than was previously thought subsequently rupture. This study contrasts sharply with previous reports quoting a high incidence of aneurysms, and significantly alters the concept and treatment of this disease.
John L. D. Atkinson, Thoralf M. Sundt Jr., O. Wayne Houser and Jack P. Whisnant
David O. Wiebers, Jack P. Whisnant, Thoralf M. Sundt Jr. and W. Michael O'Fallon
✓ The authors report the results of a long-term follow-up study of 130 patients with 161 unruptured intracranial saccular aneurysms. Their findings suggest that unruptured saccular aneurysms less than 10 mm in diameter have a very low probability of subsequent rupture; The mean diameter of the aneurysms that subsequently ruptured was 21.3 mm, compared with a diameter of 7.5 mm for aneurysms defined after rupture at the same institution. Part of the explanation for this discrepancy may be that the size of the filling compartment of the aneurysm decreases after rupture. There is also evidence from the present study that intracranial saccular aneurysms develop with increasing age of the patient and stabilize over a relatively short period, if they do not initially rupture, and that the likelihood of subsequent rupture decreases considerably if the initial stabilized size is less than 10 mm in diameter. Consequently, the critical size for aneurysm rupture is likely to be smaller if rupture occurs at the time of or soon after aneurysm formation. There seems to be a substantial difference in potential for growth and rupture between previously ruptured and unruptured aneurysms.
Related and unrelated to grade of patient, type of aneurysm, and timing of surgery
Thoralf M. Sundt Jr., Shigeaki Kobayashi, Nicolee C. Fode and Jack P. Whisnant
✓ Data from 722 consecutive cases with intracranial aneurysms were stored in a computer and later retrieved for analysis. Results and complications (including preoperative death and morbidity) of the surgical management of these patients were correlated with the Botterell grade of the patient in individuals with a recent subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), with the type of aneurysm, and with the timing of the surgical procedure. Patients with no SAH within 30 days prior to hospital admission were classified as “no SAH.” Approximately 30% of all patients had sustained more than one hemorrhage. Death and morbidity rates prior to surgery in good-grade patients with a recent SAH exceeded the risk of surgery itself. Rebleeding was the primary cause for death and morbidity in Grade 1 patients: 3% of Grade 1 patients died from a recurrent hemorrhage and 7% deteriorated to a lower grade. Deterioration from ischemia produced by vasospasm related or unrelated to rebleeding exceeded the risks of rebleeding in Grade 2 patients. There was an operative morbidity of 2% and mortality of 2% in patients who were classified as Grade 1 at the time of surgery, but an overall management morbidity of 3% and mortality of 6% in patients who were in Grade 1 at the time of hospital admission. Early surgery in Grade 1 patients was not associated with an increased incidence of delayed ischemia postoperatively. In Grade 2 patients, the operative morbidity and mortality was 7% and 4%, respectively, and the management morbidity and mortality 16% and 11%, respectively. Early surgery in this group was associated with a high frequency of postoperative delayed ischemia (particularly in patients with more than one SAH). Epsilon-aminocaproic acid appeared to protect against a rebleed, but was associated with a higher incidence of postoperative pulmonary emboli. Intraoperative complications were related both to the size of the aneurysm and to its location. Repair of multiple aneurysms did not adversely affect the result. The surgical approach, the importance of using a self-retaining brain retractor, and the technical complications in these cases are discussed.
Jack P. Whisnant, Sara E. Sacco, W. Michael O'Fallon, Nicolee C. Fode and Thoralf M. Sundt Jr.
✓ The objective of this study was to assess the effect of referral bias on survival in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The characteristics of 49 patients with aneurysmal SAH from a single community were compared with those of 328 patients referred from outside the community, all treated in the same medical care setting. In addition, referral patients who received surgery were compared by differential survival analysis with those still awaiting surgery at Days 1 to 3, Days 4 to 10, and Days 11 to 15.
There was a dramatic difference in the 30-day survival rate between referral patients (83%) and community patients (59%), but most of the difference had occurred by the 2nd day after SAH. In the referral patients, the variables present at first medical attention that were found to have an independent effect on survival were clinical grade, presence of coma, number of days from SAH to referral, diastolic blood pressure, and patient age. There was a higher survival rate at 1 year for patients who were surgically treated compared with those awaiting surgery for each of the three time periods. Patients who underwent early surgical treatment had a 1-year survival rate almost identical to that of patients with late surgery.
Referral patients had a better early survival rate than did community patients because the referral group did not include patients who died and some who were in poor clinical condition before the opportunity for referral. The differential survival analysis described provides a new method for estimating survival for treated and untreated patients with SAH.