Quality of life after treatment of unruptured intracranial aneurysms by neurosurgical clipping or by embolisation with coils. A prospective, observational study

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2004;17(1):44-52. doi: 10.1159/000073897. Epub 2003 Oct 3.


Background: Relatively high rates of complications occur after operation for unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Published data on endovascular treatment suggest lower rates of complications. We measured the impact of treatment of unruptured aneurysms by clipping or coiling on functional health, quality of life, and the level of anxiety and depression.

Methods: In three centres, we prospectively collected data on patients with an unruptured aneurysm who were treated by clipping or coiling. Treatment assignment was left to the discretion of the treating physicians. Before, 3 and 12 months after treatment, we used standardised questionnaires to assess functional health (Rankin Scale score), quality of life (SF-36, EuroQol), and the level of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).

Results: Nineteen patients were treated by coiling and 32 by clipping. In the surgical group, 4 patients (12%) had a permanent complication; 36 of all 37 aneurysms (97%) were successfully clipped. Three months after operation, quality of life was worse than before operation; 12 months after operation, it had improved but had not completely returned to baseline levels. Scores for depression were higher than in the general population. In the endovascular group, no complications with permanent deficits occurred; 16 of 19 aneurysms (84%) were occluded by more than 90%. One patient died from rupture of the previously coiled aneurysm. In the others, quality of life after 3 months and after 1 year was similar to that before treatment.

Conclusions: In the short term, operation of patients with an unruptured aneurysm has a considerable impact on functional health and quality of life. After 1 year, recovery occurs but it is incomplete. Coil embolisation does not affect functional health and quality of life.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / instrumentation
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / psychology
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Treatment Outcome