Object: Controversy still exists about the risk estimation for rupture of untreated saccular aneurysms presenting for causes other than subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The object of this study was to address this issue.
Methods: Between January 1976 and December 1997 in the Aizu Chuou Hospital, 62 patients underwent observation for more than 6 months for saccular, nonthrombotic, noncalcified unruptured aneurysms at locations not related to the cavernous sinus, which were detected in cerebral angiography studies performed for causes other than SAH. Clinical follow-up data in those 62 patients were reviewed to identify the risk of SAH. All patients were followed until July 1998, with the observation period ranging from 6 months to 17 years (mean 4.3 years). Seven patients (11.3%) developed SAH confirmed on computerized tomography (CT) scanning at a mean interval of 4.8 years, six of whom died and one of whom recovered with a major deficit. In addition, one patient died of the mass effect of the aneurysm, and another after sudden onset of headache and vomiting. The 5- and 10-year cumulative risks of CT-confirmed SAH calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method were 7.5% and 22.1%, respectively, for total cases, 33.5% and 55.9%, respectively, for large (> 10 mm) aneurysms, and 4.5% and 13.9%, respectively, for small (< 10 mm) aneurysms.
Conclusions: Although based on a relatively small, single-institution series, our data indicated that the risk of rupture from incidental, intradural, saccular aneurysms was higher than previously reported, and may support preventive surgical treatment of incidental aneurysms, considering the fatality rate of SAH.