Object: The present purpose is to define the sensitivity of the superiority of coil embolization observed in the International Subarachnoid Aneurysm Trial (ISAT) according to the rate of late rebleeding over a reasonable range, and to find the range of rebleeding rates for which it may be overturned. In the ISAT, coil embolization appears to be safer than clip ligation at 1 year, and clip occlusion has better long-term efficacy at preventing rebleeding. This leaves open the question of which is better in the longer term.
Methods: The authors calculate the life expectancy of patients following a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and compare the life expectancy of those who underwent coil embolization with those who underwent clip ligation in the ISAT cohort.
Results: The 1-year poor outcome rate following treatment climbs rapidly with advancing age. A consequence is that the absolute difference between the poor outcome rates after coil embolization and clip occlusion is lower in those < 50 years of age (3.3%) than it is for those > 50 years of age (10.1%). This difference may be enough to give clip application the advantage in the < 40-year-old group despite the small size of the difference in 1-year rebleeding rates thus far observed (0.152%).
Conclusions: When treating ruptured cerebral aneurysms, the advantage of coil embolization over clip ligation cannot be assumed for patients < 40 years old. In this age range the difference in the safety of the 2 procedures is small, and the better long-term protection from SAH afforded by clip placement may give this treatment an advantage in life expectancy for patients < 40 years of age.