Object: Repair of unruptured aneurysms is a reasonable course of action if their expected natural history is worse than the predicted risks of treatment. The purpose of this study was to examine the presenting symptoms of unruptured aneurysms and to test the hypothesis that unruptured intracranial aneurysms can be repaired without significant functional worsening. A second hypothesis was also examined--that is, that the experience of the surgeon, the aneurysm size, and the patient age can be used to predict functional outcome.
Methods: Consecutive patients who underwent repair of an unruptured intracranial aneurysm at a single institution between 1980 and 1998 were studied. Clinical and radiographic data were collected in all patients. Their modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score was determined before treatment (baseline), at 6 weeks, and at 6 months. The primary endpoint for analysis was the mRS score. Four hundred forty-nine aneurysms were repaired in 366 patients by 10 surgeons. The mean size of the primary lesion repaired was 14.6 + 10.4 mm and 27% were judged to be symptomatic. Aneurysm treatment involved either microsurgical clipping (78%), wrapping (4%), trapping with or without bypass (5%), hunterian ligation with or without bypass (9%), or other methods (4%). The mRS scores at 6 weeks were worse than at baseline (p < 0.0001), but there was no significant difference between the baseline and 6-month mRS score. At 6 months, 94% of patients showed no significant functional worsening as a result of treatment. The number of aneurysms treated by a specific surgeon was a strong predictor of better functional outcome (r = 0.99, p = 0.05). Increasing patient age (r = 0.16, p = 0.003) and increasing aneurysm size (r = 0.15, p = 0.004) were predictors of worsened functional outcome.
Conclusions: Many unruptured aneurysms produce symptoms. Unruptured intracranial aneurysms can be treated without significant permanent functional worsening. The surgeon's experience, aneurysm size, and patient age are predictors of functional outcome.