Impact of anatomical variations of the circle of Willis on the incidence of aneurysms and their recurrence rate following endovascular treatment

Clin Radiol. 2010 Nov;65(11):895-901. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2010.06.010. Epub 2010 Aug 13.


Aim: To analyse the impact of anatomical variations of the parent arteries on the incidence and recurrence rate following coil embolization of aneurysms of the anterior (AcoA), posterior communicating artery (PcoA) and basilar artery (BA) tip.

Methods: Two hundred and two (96 AcoA, 67 PcoA, and 29 BA) aneurysms in 200 patients were treated with coil embolization between January 2000 and April 2008. Parent artery variations at each location were classified as: AcoA: A1 aplasia versus hypoplasia versus symmetrical size; PcoA: foetal origin versus medium versus small size, BA: cranial versus caudal versus asymmetrical fusion. The incidence of aneurysms and difference between recurrence rates for each group were recorded on follow-up.

Results: AcoA, PcoA, and BA aneurysms were more often associated with embryonically earlier vessel wall dispositions (A1 aplasia, foetal PcoA, asymmetrical fusion). Two of these variations were also associated with aneurysm recurrence following coil embolization: asymmetrical A1 segment (p=0.01), and asymmetrical BA tip (p=0.02).

Conclusions: AcoA, PcoA, and BA tip aneurysms tend to occur more often in anatomically variant parent artery dispositions, some of which are related to aneurysm recurrence following coil embolization. This may relate to a more fragile vessel disposition as it is not fully matured or to altered haemodynamics secondary to the anatomical variations.

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / physiopathology
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / surgery
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Circle of Willis / anatomy & histology
  • Circle of Willis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Circle of Willis / surgery
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome