Recurrence of a vertebral artery dissecting pseudoaneurysm after successful stent-supported coil embolization: case report

Neurosurgery. 2003 Sep;53(3):754-9; discussion 760-1. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000080065.49651.48.


Objective and importance: Dissecting aneurysms of the intracranial vertebral artery are increasingly recognized as a cause of subarachnoid hemorrhage. We present a case involving technical success of the stent-supported coil embolization but with recurrence of the dissecting pseudoaneurysm of the intracranial vertebral artery. The implications for the endovascular management of ruptured dissecting pseudoaneurysms of the intracranial vertebral artery are discussed.

Clinical presentation: A 36-year-old man with a remote history of head injury had recovered functionally to the point of independent living. He experienced the spontaneous onset of severe head and neck pain, which progressed rapidly to obtundation. A computed tomographic scan of the head revealed subarachnoid hemorrhage centered in the posterior fossa. The patient underwent cerebral angiography, which revealed dilation of the distal left vertebral artery consistent with a dissecting pseudoaneurysm.

Intervention: Transfemoral access was achieved under general anesthesia, and two overlapping stents (3 mm in diameter and 14 mm long) were placed to cover the entire dissected segment. Follow-up angiography of the left vertebral artery showed the placement of the stents across the neck of the aneurysm; coil placement was satisfactory, with no residual aneurysm filling. Approximately 6 weeks after the patient's initial presentation, he developed the sudden onset of severe neck pain. A computed tomographic scan showed no subarachnoid hemorrhage, but computed tomographic angiography revealed that the previously treated left vertebral artery aneurysm had recurred. Angiography confirmed a recurrent pseudoaneurysm around the previously placed Guglielmi detachable coils. A test balloon occlusion was performed for 30 minutes. The patient's neurological examination was stable throughout the test occlusion period. Guglielmi detachable coil embolization of the left vertebral artery was then performed, sacrificing the artery at the level of the dissection. After the procedure was completed, no new neurological deficits occurred. On the second day after the procedure, the patient was discharged from the hospital. He was alert, oriented, and able to walk.

Conclusion: We appreciate the value of preserving a parent vessel when a dissecting pseudoaneurysm of the intracranial vertebral artery ruptures in patients with inadequate collateral blood flow, in patients with disease involving the contralateral vertebral artery, or in patients with both. However, our case represents a cautionary note that patients treated in this fashion require close clinical follow-up. We suggest that parent vessel occlusion be considered the first option for treatment in patients who will tolerate sacrifice of the parent vessel along its diseased segment. In the future, covered stent technology may resolve this dilemma for many of these patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aneurysm, False / diagnostic imaging
  • Aneurysm, False / etiology
  • Aneurysm, False / therapy*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation*
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Recurrence
  • Stents*
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / complications
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / diagnostic imaging
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / therapy*