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Mayo Clin Proc. 2004 Dec;79(12):1572-83.

Pathogenesis, natural history, and treatment of unruptured intracranial aneurysms.

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Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.


Unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs) are a major public health issue. These lesions have become increasingly recognized in recent years with the advent of advanced cerebral imaging techniques. Epidemiological evidence from multiple sources suggests that most intracranial aneurysms do not rupture. Therefore, it is desirable to identify which UIAs are at greatest risk of rupture when considering which to repair. It is important to compare size-, site-, and group-specific natural history rates with size-, site-, and age-specific morbidity and mortality associated with UIA repair because increased natural history risk often is associated with increased risk of aneurysm repair. Patient age is crucial in decision making because of its major effect on operative morbidity and mortality; however, it does not substantially affect natural history. The effect of age is most notable in patients about 50 years of age and older for open surgery and about 70 years of age and older for endovascular procedures. In general, rupture risk is lowest for patients in asymptomatic group 1 (no history of subarachnoid hemorrhage) with UIAs less than 7 mm in diameter in the anterior circulation. Surgical morbidity and mortality are most favorable for asymptomatic patients younger than 50 years who have UIAs less than 24 mm in diameter in the anterior circulation and no history of ischemic cerebrovascular disease. Endovascular morbidity and mortality may be less age dependent, and this could favor endovascular procedures, particularly in patients aged 50 to 70 years. An important issue is determining immediate vs long-term risk regarding treatment effectiveness and durability. This issue emphasizes the importance of long-term follow-up in patients after surgical and endovascular procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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