Purpose: To develop a rabbit model of an intracranial bifurcation aneurysm to test new endovascular therapies.
Materials and methods: An experimental aneurysm model was created in rabbits by means of endovascular balloon occlusion of the left common carotid artery, which created an aneurysm at the bifurcation formed by the aortic arch and the brachiocephalic trunk. A total of 18 aneurysms were created. In eight rabbits, the aneurysms were incubated with intraluminal elastase to induce degeneration of the elastic laminae. The animals were followed up with angiography for as long as 3 months. The animals were sacrificed at various times, and histologic evaluation of the aneurysm was performed.
Results: Ten aneurysms created without elastase infusion were all very small or completely closed at 1-3 months. Six aneurysms created with elastase infusion had long-term patency (two were patent at 1 month and four, at 3 months). The elastase aneurysms had a mean width of 3 mm (range, 2-3.5 mm) and a mean length of 5 mm (range, 3-7 mm). Histologic evaluation revealed destruction of the normal elastin layers, which allowed the artery to become aneurysmal.
Conclusion: This aneurysm model re-created the hemodynamic forces and size of human cerebral bifurcation aneurysms and maintained the integrity of the endothelium. The creation of the aneurysms was rapid, reliable, and reproducible.