Neurosurgical vascular complications associated with aneurysm clips evaluated by postmortem angiography

Forensic Sci Int. 1991 Oct;51(1):13-22. doi: 10.1016/0379-0738(91)90202-t.


Neurosurgical vascular complications were evaluated by postmortem angiography in a consecutive prospective series of 63 patients in Helsinki who suffered a fatal outcome following neurosurgery for ruptured intracranial aneurysm. Operative vascular complications were revealed in 28 (44%) of the cases. Massive intraoperative bleeding resulting from rupture of the aneurysm or adjacent major artery during dissection or clip application complicated the operation in 16 (25%) patients. Clip-induced obstruction of cerebral arteries was detected by angiography in seven cases (11%). In six of the patients an adjacent cerebral vessel was accidentally clipped. In one case a kinking of the clip had caused obstruction of the right anterior cerebellar artery with resulting frontal infarct. A combination of rupture of the internal carotid artery and accidental ligation of the left posterior cerebellar artery occurring simultaneously during the clipping of a ruptured basilar aneurysm was detected in one patient (2%). Other types of complication were revealed in four cases (6%): detachment of clip with re-bleeding; clipping of an uninvolved aneurysm instead of the ruptured one; displacement of the clip beneath the ruptured aneurysm. Operations on ruptured basilar artery aneurysm were significantly (P less than 0.01) more prone to complications. The results indicate that operative vascular complications play a significant role in the mortality of aneurysm patients. Post-mortem angiographic technique with contrast medium that vulcanizes at room temperature is particularly suitable for demonstration of the haemodynamic significance of clip-induced cerebrovascular accidental occlusions, and is the only method at autopsy to reveal an occlusion caused by a kinking of a properly placed aneurysm clip.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / mortality
  • Autopsy / methods
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebral Arteries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / mortality
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Intraoperative Complications* / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications* / mortality
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rupture, Spontaneous