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N Engl J Med. 1992 Sep 24;327(13):916-20.

Intracranial aneurysms in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver.



Intracranial aneurysms are a feature of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, but their prevalence is uncertain. We studied 92 subjects with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease who had no symptoms or signs of any neurologic disorder. To determine the prevalence of intracranial aneurysms, we performed high-resolution computed tomography (CT) in 60 subjects, four-vessel cerebral angiography in 21, and both procedures in 11.


Four of the 88 subjects in whom the radiologic studies were successfully completed had intracranial aneurysms (4 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.1 to 9 percent), as compared with the prevalence of 1 percent reported for an angiographic study of the general population. Three of the four subjects had multiple aneurysms. Seven subjects for whom the results of CT studies were suspicious underwent cerebral angiography: two had aneurysms, and five had normal vascular structures that accounted for the suspicious results of tomography. Four subjects who had normal CT imaging studies also had normal angiographic examinations. Eight of the 32 subjects who underwent angiography (25 percent) had transient complications, as compared with 22 of 220 control subjects (10 percent) who did not have polycystic kidney disease (P less than 0.05). We could not identify any risk factor in these subjects that was related to the occurrence of aneurysm.


Asymptomatic intracranial aneurysms appear to be more frequent in people with polycystic kidney disease than in the general population, although our 95 percent confidence interval includes the possibility of no difference. Because cerebral angiography is associated with increased morbidity in people with polycystic kidney disease, we recommend high-resolution CT as a screening test.

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