Intracranial aneurysms arising from the posterior wall of the supraclinoid carotid artery are extremely common lesions. The aneurysm dilation typically occurs in immediate proximity to the origin of the posterior communicating artery and, less commonly, the anterior choroidal artery (AChA). Because of the increasingly widespread use of non-invasive neuroimaging methods to evaluate patients believed to harbor cerebral lesions, many of these carotid artery aneurysms are now documented in their unruptured state, prior to occurrence of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Based on these factors, the management of unruptured posterior carotid artery (PCA) wall aneurysms is an important element of any neurosurgical practice.
Despite impressive recent advances in endovascular therapy, the placement of microsurgical clips to exclude aneurysms with preservation of all afferent and efferent vasculature remains the most efficacious and durable therapy. To date, an optimal outcome is only achieved when the neurosurgeon is able to combine systematic preoperative neurovascular assessment with meticulous operative technique. In this report, the authors review their surgical approach to PCA wall aneurysms, which is greatly based on the extensive neurovascular experience of the senior author. Focus is placed on their methods of preoperative evaluation and operative technique, with emphasis on neurovascular anatomy and the significance of oculomotor nerve compression. They conclude by discussing surgery-related complications, with a particular focus on intraoperative rupture of aneurysms and their management, and the postoperative ischemic AChA syndrome.