Object: Certain intracranial aneurysms, because of their fusiform or complex wide-necked structure, giant size, or involvement with critical perforating or branch vessels. are unamenable to direct surgical clipping or endovascular coil treatment. Management of such lesions requires alternative or novel treatment strategies. Proximal and distal occlusion (trapping) is the most effective strategy. In lesions that cannot be trapped, alteration in blood flow to the "inflow zone," the site most vulnerable to aneurysm growth and rupture, is used.
Methods: From 1991 to 1999 the combined neurosurgical-neuroendovascular team at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) managed 48 intracranial aneurysms that could not be clipped or occluded. Intracavernous internal carotid artery aneurysms were excluded from this analysis. By applying a previously described aneurysm rupture risk classification system (MGH Grades 0-5) based on the age of the patient, aneurysm size, Hunt and Hess grade, Fisher grade, and whether the aneurysm was a giant lesion located in the posterior circulation, the authors found that a significant number of patients were at moderate risk (MGH Grade 2; 31.3% of patients) and at high risk (MGH Grades 3 or 4; 22.9%) for treatment-related morbidity. The lesions were treated using a variety of strategies--surgical, endovascular, or a combination of modalities. Aneurysms that could not be trapped or occluded were treated using a paradigm of flow alteration, with flow redirected from either native collateral networks or from a surgically performed vascular bypass. Overall clinical outcomes were determined using the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS). A GOS score of 5 or 4 was achieved in 77.1%, a GOS score of 3 or 2 in 8.3%, and death (GOS 1) occurred in 14.6% of the patients. Procedure-related complications occurred in 27.1% of cases; the major morbidity rate was 6.3% and the mortality rate was 10.4%. Three patients experienced aneurysmal hemorrhage posttreatment; in two patients this event proved to be fatal. Aneurysms with MGH Grades 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 were associated with favorable outcomes (GOS scores of 5 or 4) in 100%, 92.8%, 71.4%, 50%, and 0% of instances, respectively.
Conclusions: Despite a high incidence of transient complications, intracranial aneurysms that cannot be clipped or occluded require alternative surgical and endovascular treatment strategies. In those aneurysms that cannot safely be trapped or occluded, one approach is the treatment strategy of flow alteration.