Microneurosurgical management of anterior communicating artery aneurysms

Surg Neurol. 2008 Jul;70(1):8-28; discussion 29. doi: 10.1016/j.surneu.2008.01.056. Epub 2008 May 2.


Background: Anterior communicating artery complex is the most frequent site of intracranial aneurysms in most reported series. Anterior communicating artery aneurysms are the most complex aneurysms of the anterior circulation due to the angioarchitecture and flow dynamics of the ACoA region, frequent anatomical variations, deep interhemispheric location, and danger of severing the perforators with ensuing neurologic deficits. The authors review the practical microsurgical anatomy, importance of preoperative imaging in surgical planning, and microneurosurgical steps in dissection and clipping of ACoAAs.

Methods: This review, and the whole series on intracranial aneurysms, are mainly based on the personal microneurosurgical experience of the senior author (JH) in 2 Finnish centers (Helsinki and Kuopio), which serve, without patient selection, the catchment area in Southern and Eastern Finland.

Results: These 2 centers have treated more than 10000 patients with aneurysm since 1951. In the Kuopio Cerebral Aneurysm Database of 3005 patients with 4253 aneurysms, 1145 patients (38%) had altogether 1179 ACA aneurysms; of them, 898 patients harbored 921 (78%) ACoAAs. In this series, 715 patients (80%) presented with ruptured ACoAAs with the median diameter of 7 mm. Giant ACoAAs were present in 15 (2%), whereas only 3 (0.3%) were classified as fusiform.

Conclusions: Anterior communicating artery aneurysms present frequently with SAH at small size. Furthermore, unruptured ACoAAs may have increased risk of rupture regardless of size, also as an associated aneurysm, and require treatment. The aim in microneurosurgical management of an ACoAA is total occlusion of the aneurysm sac with preservation of flow in all branching and perforating arteries. This demanding task necessitates perfect surgical strategy based on review of the 3D angioarchitecture and abnormalities of the patient's ACoA complex with its ACoAA and to orientate accordingly during the microsurgical dissection. The surgical trajectory should provide optimal visualization of the ACoA complex without massive brain retraction. Precise dissection in the 3D anatomy of the ACoA complex and perforators requires not only experience and skill but patience to work the dome and base under repeated protection of temporary clips and pilot clips. This is particularly important with the complex, large, and giant aneurysms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / diagnosis
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / etiology
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / surgery
  • Dissection
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnosis*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / etiology
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Microsurgery*
  • Neuronavigation