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Pavlina Lenga, Christian Hohaus, Bujung Hong, Adisa Kursumovic, Nicolai Maldaner, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Philippe Bijlenga, Daniel A. Rüfenacht, Nils O. Schmidt, Peter Vajkoczy and Julius Dengler


Giant posterior circulation aneurysms (GPCirAs) usually cause substantial mass effect on the brainstem, which may lead to neurological deficits. So far, there has been no systematic investigation of factors associated with such deficits in GPCirA. The authors aim to examine the risk factors for cranial nerve deficit (CND), motor deficit, and disability in patients with GPCirA.


Using MR images obtained in 30 patients with unruptured GPCirA, the authors examined GPCirA volume, presence of hydrocephalus or partial thrombosis (PT) of the aneurysm, and the degree of brainstem displacement measured by the distance between the McRae line and the tip of the GPCirA (∆MT). They evaluated associations between these factors and neurological deficits.


Thirty GPCirAs in 30 patients were included. The prevalence of CNDs was 50%. Patients with CNDs significantly differed from those without CNDs in terms of age (mean 51.0 years [SD 15.0 years] vs 69.0 years [SD 21.0 years], p = 0.01) and in ∆MT (median 50.7 mm [IQR 39.2–53.9 mm] vs 39.0 mm [IQR 32.3–45.9 mm], p = 0.02). The prevalence of motor deficits was 33.3%. Patients with motor deficits showed a larger ∆MT (median 50.5 mm [IQR 40.8–54.6 mm]) compared with those without (∆MT: median 39.1 mm [IQR 32.8–50.5 mm], p = 0.04). GPCirA volume was larger in patients with poor modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores (median 14.9 cm3 [IQR 8.6–18.7 cm3]) than in those with mRS scores of 0–2 (median 6.8 cm3 [IQR 4.4–11.7 cm3], p = 0.03). After adjusting for patient age and the occurrence of hydrocephalus or PT, the authors found that higher degrees of disability were significantly associated with aneurysm volume (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.0–1.3; p = 0.04), but not with ∆MT. The occurrence of CND or motor deficit was not associated with any of the examined variables. There was no correlation between GPCirA volume and ∆MT (rs = 0.01, p = 0.96). The prevalence of neurological deficits did not differ between GPCirA at the basilar apex, the basilar trunk, the vertebrobasilar junction, or the vertebral artery.


In this study, the neurological condition of the patients was associated only with GPCirA volume and not with the degree of brainstem displacement, the occurrence of PT or hydrocephalus, or the exact location of the GPCirA. These findings highlight the clinical relevance of GPCirA volume and suggest that factors such as brainstem displacement or PT should play less of a role when finding arguments for or against treatment of GPCirA.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02066493 (

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Julius Dengler, Nicolai Maldaner, Philippe Bijlenga, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Alexander Graewe, Susanne Guhl, Bujung Hong, Christian Hohaus, Adisa Kursumovic, Dorothee Mielke, Karl-Michael Schebesch, Maria Wostrack, Daniel Rufenacht, Peter Vajkoczy, Nils Ole Schmidt and Giant Intracranial Aneurysm Study Group


The underlying mechanisms causing intracranial perianeurysmal edema (PAE) are still poorly understood. Since PAE is most frequently observed in giant intracranial aneurysms (GIAs), the authors designed a study to examine the occurrence of PAE in relation to the location, size, and partial thrombosis (PT) of GIAs along with the clinical impact of PAE.


Magnetic resonance imaging data for patients with a diagnosis of unruptured GIA from the international multicenter Giant Intracranial Aneurysm Registry were retrospectively analyzed with regard to location and size of the GIA, PAE volume, and the presence of PT. The occurrence of PAE was correlated to clinical findings.


Imaging data for 69 GIAs were eligible for inclusion in this study. Perianeurysmal edema was observed in 33.3% of all cases, with the highest frequency in GIAs of the middle cerebral artery (MCA; 68.8%) and the lowest frequency in GIAs of the cavernous internal carotid artery (ICA; 0.0%). Independent predictors of PAE formation were GIA volume (OR 1.13, p = 0.02) and the occurrence of PT (OR 9.84, p = 0.04). Giant intracranial aneurysm location did not predict PAE occurrence. Giant aneurysms with PAE were larger than GIAs without PAE (p < 0.01), and GIA volume correlated with PAE volume (rs = 0.51, p = 0.01). Perianeurysmal edema had no influence on the modified Rankin Scale score (p = 0.30 or the occurrence of aphasia (p = 0.61) or hemiparesis (p = 0.82).


Perianeurysmal edema was associated with GIA size and the presence of PT. As no PAE was observed in cavernous ICA aneurysms, even though they exerted mass effect on the brain and also displayed PT, the dura mater may serve as a barrier protecting the brain from PAE formation.