Balloon-assisted coil embolization of intracranial aneurysms: incidence, complications, and angiography results

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The aim of this study was to assess the incidence, indications, complications, and angiography results associated with balloon-assisted coil embolization (BACE) of intracranial aneurysms and to compare these factors with those for conventional coil embolization (CE).


Between 1995 and 2005, 827 intracranial aneurysms in 757 consecutive patients were packed with coils. Balloon-assisted coil embolization was used in 8.6% (71 of 827) of the coil insertion procedures and was more frequently used in large aneurysms, unruptured lesions, and those located on the vertebrobasilar system and carotid artery. Procedure-related complications leading to death or dependency were significantly higher in BACEs (14.1%) compared with those in CEs (3%). Packing densities and the results of 6-month follow-up angiography studies did not differ significantly between the two types of treatments. There was a strong trend for a higher retreatment rate in the aneurysms treated with BACE.


Balloon-assisted coil embolization of intracranial aneurysms is associated with a high complication rate and should only be used if conventional CE of these lesions is impossible or has failed and if anticipated surgical risks are too high. The BACE procedure does not improve the occlusion rates of the aneurysms on follow-up evaluation.

Abbreviations used in this paper: BACE = balloon-assisted coil embolization; CE = coil embolization.

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Address reprint requests to: Menno Sluzewski, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Radiology, St. Elisabeth Ziekenhuis, Hilvaren-beekseweg 60, 5022 GC Tilburg, The Netherlands. email:

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