Sizes of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms in relation to their sites and the ages of patients

J Neurosurg. 2002 Jan;96(1):64-70. doi: 10.3171/jns.2002.96.1.0064.


Object: The authors explore the risk of rupture in aneurysms categorized by size.

Methods: A computerized database of 945 patients with aneurysms treated between 1967 and 1987 was retrospectively established. All available clinical and radiological studies were abstracted. Because of the recent interest in the size of intracranial aneurysms in relation to their likelihood of rupture, the database was searched with respect to this parameter. In 390 patients representing 41% of all cases, aneurysms were measured by neuroradiologists at the time of diagnosis. In 78% of the 945 patients there was only one aneurysm, and of the 507 aneurysms that were measured, 60% were solitary. Of all patients, 86% had ruptured aneurysms. The average age of all patients was 47 years, and for those with ruptured aneurysms it was 46 years. Of the ruptured aneurysms, 77% were 10 mm or smaller, compared with 85% of the unruptured aneurysms. It was found that 40.3% of the ruptured aneurysms were on the anterior cerebral artery or anterior communicating artery, compared with 13% of the unruptured aneurysms. None of the cavernous internal carotid artery (ICA) aneurysms were ruptured and 65% of the ophthalmic artery (OphA) aneurysms were. Of the unruptured aneurysms, 15% were located in the cavernous ICA or the OphA. Of the ruptured aneurysms, 29% were on the middle cerebral artery, compared with 36% of the unruptured aneurysms. The mean size of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms showed no statistically significant increase with patient age, although the difference in size between the ruptured and unruptured aneurysms decreased with increasing age. The mean size of all ruptured aneurysms (10.8 mm) was significantly larger than the mean size of all unruptured aneurysms (7.8 mm, p < 0.001); the median sizes were 10 mm and 5 mm, respectively. The size of ruptured aneurysms in patients who died in the hospital was significantly larger than those in the patients who survived (12 mm compared with 9.9 mm, p = 0.004). Symptomatic unruptured aneurysms were significantly larger than incidental unruptured aneurysms (14.6 mm compared with 6.9 mm, p = 0.032), which were, in turn, larger than aneurysms that were unruptured and part of a multiple aneurysm constellation. Both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms were larger in male than in female patients, but not significantly.

Conclusions: Site and patient age, as well as lesion size, may affect the chance of rupture.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / surgery
  • Cerebral Angiography*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*