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J Neurosurg. 2011 Aug;115(2):319-27. doi: 10.3171/2011.2.JNS10188. Epub 2011 Apr 22.

Complex basilar artery aneurysms treated using surgical basilar occlusion: a modern case series. Clinical article.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.



Complex aneurysms of the basilar artery (BA) apex can be successfully treated using surgical occlusion of the proximal BA. Since the introduction of the Guglielmi detachable coil in 1991, the focus on treating BA aneurysms has been on using endovascular techniques. Outcomes with endovascular techniques have been less than optimal for large and complex aneurysms. The authors therefore report on their current 22-year experience with surgical BA occlusion for complex BA aneurysms and long-term outcome.


Fifteen patients underwent surgical BA occlusion at Columbia University Medical Center for complex basilar apex aneurysms between 1987 and 2009. The clinical records of each patient were reviewed for details of presentation, hospital course, operative intervention, and outcome.


Postoperatively, all patient encounters were recorded at discharge, at the 1-month and 1-year follow-up evaluations, and at long-term outcome. Twelve (80%) of 15 patients experienced no new postoperative neurological deficits. Three patients presenting with severe neurological impairment (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score > 3) made excellent recoveries (mRS Scores 1-2) at long-term follow-up. One patient died, 1 suffered a stroke during the postoperative angiogram which resulted in hemiparesis, and 1 suffered internuclear ophthalmoplegia which resolved by the 1-month follow-up. Long-term follow-up occurred at an average of 3 ± 4.5 years, ranging from 2 months (for a recently treated patient) to 18 years. The average mRS score at long-term follow-up was 1 ± 1.5. No patient experienced postoperative hemorrhage, rebleeding, or delayed neurological deterioration.


Surgical occlusion of the BA is an effective treatment option offering a high rate of angiographic cure in a single procedure for patients with complex BA aneurysms. The ability to surgically perform point occlusion of the BA without impairment of brainstem perforators, while maintaining collateral blood flow to the posterior circulation branch vessels, may provide an advantage compared with endovascular treatments.

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