Patterns in neurosurgical adverse events: endovascular neurosurgery

Neurosurg Focus. 2012 Nov;33(5):E14. doi: 10.3171/2012.7.FOCUS12180.


As part of a project to devise evidence-based safety interventions for specialty surgery, the authors sought to review current evidence in endovascular neurosurgery concerning the frequency of adverse events in practice, their patterns, and current methods of reducing the occurrence of these events. This review represents part of a series of papers written to consolidate information about these events and preventive measures as part of an ongoing effort to ascertain the utility of devising system-wide policies and safety tools to improve neurosurgical practice. Based on a review of the literature, thromboembolic events appeared to be the most common adverse events in endovascular neurosurgery, with a reported incidence ranging from 2% to 61% depending on aneurysm rupture status and mode of detection of the event. Intraprocedural and periprocedural prevention and rescue regimens are advocated to minimize this risk; however, evidence on the optimal use of anticoagulant and antithrombotic agents is limited. Furthermore, it is unknown what proportion of eligible patients receive any prophylactic treatment. Groin-site hematoma is the most common access-related complication. Data from the cardiac literature indicate an overall incidence of 9% to 32%, but data specific to neuroendovascular therapy are scant. Manual compression, compression adjuncts, and closure devices are used with varying rates of success, but no standardized protocols have been tested on a broad scale. Contrast-induced nephropathy is one of the more common causes of hospital-acquired renal insufficiency, with an incidence of 30% in high-risk patients after contrast administration. Evidence from medical fields supports the use of various preventive strategies. Intraprocedural vessel rupture is infrequent, with the reported incidence ranging from 1% to 9%, but it is potentially devastating. Improvements in device technology combined with proper endovascular technique play an important role in reducing this risk. Occasionally, anatomical or technical difficulties preclude treatment of the lesion of interest. Reports of such occurrences are scant, but existing series suggest an incidence of 4% to 6%. Management strategies for radiation-induced effects are also discussed. The incidence rates are unknown, but protective techniques have been demonstrated. Many of these complications have strategies that appear effective in reducing their risk of occurrence, but development and evaluation of systematic guidelines and protocols have been widely lacking. Furthermore, there has been little monitoring of levels of adherence to potentially effective practices. Protocols and monitoring programs to support integrated implementation may be broadly effective.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / drug therapy
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / surgery
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects
  • Endovascular Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / etiology
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / therapy
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Patient Safety
  • Perioperative Care
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Thromboembolism / etiology
  • Thromboembolism / therapy


  • Contrast Media