✓ The clinical and anatomical features of 21 surgically treated saccular aneurysms of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) are analyzed. Seventeen of these lesions originated from the PICA-vertebral junction, and four arose from distal PICA branching sites. Twelve lesions arose from the left PICA, nine were right-sided, and all were small (less than 12.5 mm). Most of these aneurysms occurred in females (16 of 21) and presented as classic subarachnoid hemorrhage. The lack of specific focal deficits prevented an accurate pre-angiographic determination of aneurysm location in most instances. Clinically significant vasospasm and aneurysm multiplicity occurred with approximately equal frequency as at other locations.
The angiographic and surgical features of these lesions are determined by the course of the vertebral artery and PICA; that is, they occur at branching sites and at curves in the parent vessel, and point in the direction in which flow would have continued if the curve at the aneurysm's origin had not been present. Aneurysms at the PICA-vertebral junction usually occur at least 1 cm above the foramen magnum level, arise distal to the PICA origin in the angle between the two vessels, and are best approached by a paramedian incision with the patient in the lateral recumbent position. Isolated clipping of the aneurysm neck is essential in this instance, as trapping may compromise vital perforating arteries of the brain stem. More distal (retromedullary) PICA aneurysms are sometimes associated with another vascular anomaly (two cases in this series), and are best handled through a bilateral suboccipital craniectomy. Clipping of the neck is the preferred treatment, but trapping is usually safe, if necessary.