Surgery for aneurysms at the anterior wall of the internal carotid artery (ICA), which are also referred to as ICA anterior wall aneurysms, is often challenging. A treatment strategy needs to be determined according to the pathology of the aneurysm—namely, whether the aneurysm is a saccular aneurysm with firm neck walls that would tolerate clipping or coiling, a dissecting aneurysm, or a blood blister–like aneurysm. However, it is not always possible to properly evaluate the condition of the aneurysm before surgery solely based on angiographic findings.
The authors focused on the location of the ophthalmic artery (OA) in determining the pathology of ICA anterior wall aneurysms. Between January 2006 and December 2012, diagnostic cerebral angiography, for any reason, was performed on 1643 ICAs in 855 patients at Saitama Medical Center. The authors also investigated the relationship between the origin of the OA and the incidence of ICA anterior wall aneurysms. The pathogenesis was also evaluated for each aneurysm based on findings from both angiography and open surgery to identify any correlation between the location where the OA originated and the conditions of the aneurysm walls.
Among 1643 ICAs, 31 arteries (1.89%) were accompanied by an anomalous origin of the OA, including 26 OAs originating from the C3 portion, 3 originating from the C4 portion, and 2 originating from the anterior cerebral artery. The incidence of an anomalous origin of the OA had no relationship to age, sex, or side. Internal carotid artery anterior wall aneurysms were observed in 16 (0.97%) of 1643 ICAs. Female patients had a significantly higher risk of having ICA anterior wall aneurysms (p = 0.026). The risk of ICA anterior wall aneurysm formation was approximately 50 times higher in patients with an anomalous origin of the OA (25.8% [8 of 31]) than in those with a normal OA (0.5% [8 of 1612], p < 0.0001). Based on angiographic classifications, saccular aneurysms were significantly more common in patients with an anomalous origin of the OA than in those with a normal OA (p = 0.041). Ten of 16 patients with ICA anterior wall aneurysms underwent craniotomies. Based on the intraoperative findings, all 6 aneurysms with normal OAs were dissecting or blood blister–like aneurysms, not saccular aneurysms.
There was a close relationship between the location of the OA origin and the predisposition to ICA anterior wall aneurysms. Developmental failure of the OA and subsequent weakness of the vessel wall might account for this phenomenon, as previously reported regarding other aneurysms related to the anomalous development of parent arteries. The data also appear to indicate that ICA anterior wall aneurysms in patients with an anomalous origin of the OA tend to be saccular aneurysms with normal neck walls. These findings provide critical information in determining therapeutic strategies for ICA anterior wall aneurysms.