Object: Embolization of intracranial aneurysms performed using Guglielmi detachable coils (GDCs) is performed with the patient in a state of general anesthesia at most centers. Such an approach does not allow intraprocedural evaluation of the patient's neurological status and carries additional risks associated with general anesthesia and mechanical ventilation. At the authors' institution, GDC embolization of intracranial aneurysms is performed in awake patients after administration of sedative and analgesic agents (midazolam, fentanyl, morphine, and/or hydromorphone). To determine the feasibility and safety of this approach, the authors have retrospectively reviewed their clinical experience.
Methods: The authors reviewed the medical records of all patients in whom GDC embolization for the treatment of intracranial aneurysms was undertaken between February 1, 1990 and October 31, 1999. Clinical presentation, medical comorbidities, anesthetic agents used, intraprocedural complications, and final procedural outcome were recorded for each patient. Guglielmi detachable coil embolization was attempted in the awake patient in 150 procedures. Among 92 procedures for unruptured aneurysms, 75 (82%) were completed without complications. Four procedures were completed with complications. Of the 92 procedures, 13 were aborted due to patient uncooperativeness (one patient), complications (three patients), morphological characteristics of the aneurysm or surrounding vessels that made embolization technically difficult (eight patients), or vasospasm (one patient). Among 58 procedures for ruptured aneurysms, the procedure was completed without complication in 48 cases (83%). The procedure was completed with complications in five cases and two patients required induction of general anesthesia during the procedure. Five procedures were aborted because morphological characteristics of the aneurysm or surrounding vessels made embolization technically difficult (two patients) or because of aneurysm rupture (two patients) or the appearance of a transient neurological deficit (one patient).
Conclusions: Embolization of intracranial aneurysms performed using GDCs in the awake patient appears to be safe and feasible and allows intraprocedural evaluation of the patient. Potential advantages, including decreased cardiopulmonary morbidity rates, shorter hospital stay, and lower hospital costs, still require confirmation by a direct comparison with other anesthetic procedures.