Panacea or problem: flow diverters in the treatment of symptomatic large or giant fusiform vertebrobasilar aneurysms

J Neurosurg. 2012 Jun;116(6):1258-66. doi: 10.3171/2012.2.JNS111942. Epub 2012 Mar 9.


Object: The use of flow-diverting stents has gained momentum as a curative approach in the treatment of complex proximal anterior circulation intracranial aneurysms. There have been some reported attempts of treating formidable lesions in the posterior circulation. Posterior circulation giant fusiform aneurysms have a particularly aggressive natural history. To date, no one approach has been shown to be comprehensively effective or low risk. The authors report the initial results, including the significant morbidity and mortality encountered, with flow diversion in the treatment of large or giant fusiform vertebrobasilar aneurysms at Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital.

Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed their prospectively collected endovascular database to identify patients with intracranial aneurysms who underwent treatment with flow-diverting devices and determined that 7 patients had presented with symptomatic large or giant fusiform vertebrobasilar aneurysms. The outcomes of these patients, based on the modified Rankin Scale (mRS), were tabulated, as were the complications experienced.

Results: Among the 7 patients, Pipeline devices were placed in 6 patients and Silk devices in 1 patient. At the last follow-up evaluation, 4 patients had died (mRS score of 6), all of whom were treated with the Pipeline device. The other 3 patients had mRS scores of 5 (severe disability), 1, and 0. The deaths included posttreatment aneurysm ruptures in 2 patients and lack of improvement in neurological status related to presenting brainstem infarcts and subsequent withdrawal of care in the other 2 patients.

Conclusions: Whether flow diversion will be an effective strategy for treatment of large or giant fusiform vertebrobasilar aneurysms remains to be seen. The authors' initial experience suggests substantial morbidity and mortality associated with the treatment and with the natural history. As outcomes data slowly become available for patients receiving these devices for fusiform posterior circulation aneurysms, practitioners should use these devices judiciously.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Device Approval
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / mortality
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stents*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration