Feasibility of magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) follow-up as the primary imaging modality after coiling of intracranial aneurysms

Acta Radiol. 2010 Mar;51(2):226-32. doi: 10.3109/02841850903436642.


Background: Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) is still regarded as the gold standard for detecting residual flow in treated aneurysms. Recent reports have also shown excellent results from magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) imaging. This is an important observation, since DSA is associated with a risk of medical complications, is time consuming, and is more expensive.

Purpose: To determine whether MRA could replace conventional DSA and serve as the primary postinterventional imaging modality in patients with coiled intracranial aneurysms.

Material and methods: We studied a prospectively enrolled cohort of 190 patients treated endovascularly for a first-ruptured and/or unruptured intracranial aneurysm between January 2004 and December 2008. The imaging protocol included a 1.5T time-of-flight (TOF) MRA and a DSA at 3 months (on the same day) and, depending on comparability, a 1.5T TOF-MRA or DSA 1 year after treatment. All images were evaluated by a multidisciplinary panel.

Results: In 141/190 patients, both an MRA and DSA were performed after 3-month follow-up. In 2/141 patients (1.4%), (small) neck remnants gave false-negative MRA results. In one patient (0.7%), this led to additional neurosurgical clipping of the aneurysm. In 25/141 patients, future follow-up (>3 months) consisted of DSA because of various reasons. In 24/25 of these patients, primary MRA images alone would invariably have led to additional DSA imaging.

Conclusion: The present study shows that 1.5T TOF-MRA is a feasible primary follow-up modality after coiling of intracranial aneurysms. Given our data, we now suggest that, in every patient with a coiled intracranial aneurysm, the first follow-up, 3 months after coiling, should be an MRA study. Only when this MRA is inconclusive (e.g., because of coil artifacts), or in the case of suspicion of recanalization, should DSA be performed additionally.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Cerebral Angiography / methods*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Contrast Media
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / pathology*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triiodobenzoic Acids


  • Contrast Media
  • Triiodobenzoic Acids
  • iodixanol