Giant intracranial aneurysms of the posterior circulation and their relation to the brainstem: analysis of risk factors for neurological deficits

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OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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 (clinicaltrials.gov)

ABBREVIATIONS BI = basilar invagination; CN = cranial nerve; CND = cranial nerve deficit; EI = Evans index; GIA = giant intracranial aneurysm; GPCirA = giant posterior circulation aneurysm; McRL = McRae line; mRS = modified Rankin Scale; PT = partial thrombosis; ∆;MT = distance between the McRL and highest tip of the GPCirA.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence Julius Dengler: Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Germany. julius.dengler@charite.de.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online August 10, 2018; DOI: 10.3171/2018.4.JNS172343.Disclosures The Giant Intracranial Aneurysm Registry is funded by the Center for Stroke Research-Berlin (Grant No. CS-2009-12) to J.D., the coordinating officer of the registry. This financial support exclusively funds the maintenance of the internet-based database.
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