Predicting the risk of rupture of intracranial aneurysms based on anatomical location

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2005 Mar;147(3):259-63; discussion 263. doi: 10.1007/s00701-004-0473-3.


The location of intracranial aneurysms may be a significant independent risk factor for predicting aneurysm rupture. A recent report found high bleed rates from posterior communicating artery aneurysms which had not previously been noted. On this distinction hangs the decision whether to treat a large number of unruptured aneurysms. In the recent publication by the International Study of Unruptured Intracranial Aneurysms (ISUIA), two bleeds from small incidental posterior communicating artery aneurysms were noted and these aneurysms were reported to have a similar risk to aneurysms of the posterior circulation and as a result were grouped with them. This was a post hoc analysis so the justification for this assertion is tenuous. The hypothesis that posterior communicating aneurysms are of similar risk to posterior circulation aneurysms requires further testing on other data before it can be confidently accepted. A review of the literature was undertaken to define relative risks of rupture for different anatomical locations and to test the above hypothesis. Eleven papers were found to contain sufficient data to calculate rupture rates for anatomical sub groups. Studies contained a total of 30,204 patient years of follow up. Results showed the internal carotid artery to be the commonest site for unruptured aneurysms (38%). Aneurysms located in the posterior circulation had an overall annual bleed rate of 1.8%. This compares with 0.49% for the anterior circulation. The bleed rate from aneurysms of the posterior communicating artery (0.46% per year) was similar to that of the rest of the anterior circulation. The ISUIA post hoc hypothesis fails when tested on these data and the ISUIA data should be re-analysed with posterior communicating artery aneurysms grouped with the anterior circulation where they more traditionally belong.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / epidemiology
  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / pathology
  • Carotid Artery, Internal, Dissection / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology*
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiopathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / epidemiology*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / pathology*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / epidemiology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / pathology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / epidemiology
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / pathology
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / physiopathology
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / physiopathology