Objective: This study developed an animal model of intracranial aneurysms suitable for evaluating emerging endovascular devices for aneurysmal therapy. We characterized the short-, medium-, and long-term attributes of this endovascular technique for saccular aneurysmal creation in the rabbit.
Materials and methods: The right common carotid artery was surgically exposed in nine New Zealand white rabbits. Using endovascular techniques, we occluded the origin of the right common carotid artery with a pliable balloon. Elastase was incubated endoluminally in the proximal common carotid artery above the balloon. The common carotid artery was ligated distally. Animals were studied angiographically and sacrificed at 2 weeks (n = 3), 10 weeks (n = 3), and 24 weeks (n = 3) after aneurysm creation. Histology was obtained.
Results: Saccular aneurysms formed in eight of the nine rabbits. The aneurysm projected from the apex of an approximately 90 degree curve of the parent vessel, the brachiocephalic artery. Mean aneurysm diameter was 4.5 mm (SD, 1.2 mm), and mean height was 7.5 mm (SD, 1.6 mm). All samples showed thinned elastic lamina and no evidence of inflammation. In four of eight aneurysms, unorganized thrombus was present in the dome of the aneurysm.
Conclusion: Arterial aneurysms with intact endothelium and deficient elastic lamina were reliably created in an area of high shear stress in New Zealand white rabbits. Three of these aneurysms remained patent for at least 6 months. We found a simple procedure that can be readily applied to the testing of new endovascular devices for a reliable creation of aneurysms in rabbits.