Although intracranial arterial aneurysms (IAAs) of childhood are usually idiopathic, it is possible that underlying arteriopathy escapes detection when using conventional diagnostic tools. Quantitative arterial tortuosity (QAT) has been studied as a biomarker of arteriopathy. The authors analyzed cervicocerebral QAT in children with idiopathic IAAs to assess the possibility of arteriopathy.
Cases were identified by text-string searches of imaging reports spanning the period January 1993 through June 2017. QAT of cervicocerebral arterial segments was measured from cross-sectional studies using image-processing software. Other imaging and clinical data were confirmed by retrospective electronic record review. Children with idiopathic IAAs and positive case controls, with congenital arteriopathy differentiated according to aneurysm status (with and without an aneurysm), were compared to each other and to healthy controls without vascular risk factors.
Cervicocerebral QAT was measured in 314 children: 24 with idiopathic IAAs, 163 with congenital arteriopathy (including 14 arteriopathic IAAs), and 127 healthy controls. QAT of all vertebrobasilar segments was larger in children with IAAs (idiopathic and arteriopathic forms) (p < 0.05). In children with congenital arteriopathy without an aneurysm, QAT was decreased for the distal cervical vertebral arteries and increased for the supraspinal vertebral artery relative to healthy children. QAT of specific cervicocerebral segments correlated with IAA size and rupture status.
Cervicocerebral QAT is a biomarker of arteriopathy in children with IAA, even in the absence of other disease markers. Additional findings suggest a correlation of cervicocerebral QAT with IAA size and rupture status and with the presence of IAA in children with congenital arteriopathy.