Fusiform vertebral artery aneurysms as a cause of dissecting aneurysms. Report of two autopsy cases and a review of the literature

J Neurosurg. 1999 Jul;91(1):139-44. doi: 10.3171/jns.1999.91.1.0139.


Two autopsy cases of angiographically determined fusiform aneurysms of the vertebral arteries (VAs) are reported and the appropriate literature is reviewed to investigate the pathological characteristics of both fusiform and dissecting VA aneurysms and the pathogenesis of dissecting aneurysms. One patient had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) due to dissection of a previously documented incidental fusiform aneurysm. The other patient had harbored incidental fusiform aneurysms coexistent with a ruptured aneurysm of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. The location and pathological features of the aneurysms were similar in the two cases. The aneurysms in both cases displayed intimal thickening, disruption of the internal elastic lamina, and degeneration of the media. A mural hemorrhage and patchy calcification were also found in the case that included SAH. Based on their pathological investigation of these two cases and a review of reported cases, the authors propose that incidental fusiform aneurysms in the VAs are characterized by weakness in the internal elastic lamina and, therefore, have the potential to become dissecting aneurysms, resulting in a fatal prognosis. This suggests that long-term control of blood pressure is mandatory in patients with incidental fusiform aneurysms in the VAs.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aneurysm / complications*
  • Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Aneurysm / pathology*
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / diagnostic imaging
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / etiology*
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / pathology
  • Angiography
  • Autopsy
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vertebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Vertebral Artery / pathology*