Introduction: Animal models may explain how stents and flow diverters (FDs) may succeed or fail to treat bifurcation aneurysms.
Methods: In vitro studies were designed to anticipate device deformations in bifurcations. Large, wide-necked bifurcation aneurysms were constructed in 21 animals and treated 4-8 weeks later using stents and FDs in various combinations, forming four main groups: parent artery to right branch flow diversion (RBFD, n = 6), parent artery to left branch flow diversion (LBFD, n = 6), Y flow diversion (YFD, n = 4), and compared with high-porosity Y-stenting (YHPS, n = 4). The results include immediate and follow-up angiography at 3 months, followed by grading of the extent of neointimal coverage of devices at pathology.
Results: In vitro, all braided devices showed varying porosities according to characteristic zones. FDs can be compacted to decrease porosities, but a limiting factor is the constant presence of a more porous transition zone. In vivo, 3/6 RBFD, 4/6 LBFD, and 2/4 YFD treated aneurysms had decreased in size by 3 months, while those treated with YHPS increased in size (P = 0.15). There was a significant correlation between device porosities and extent of neointimal coverage (r = 0.639, P = 0.002), and between porosities and angiographic evolution (r = -0.655, P = 0.002), but not between neointima formation and angiographic evolution (r = -0.278, P = 0.235). Failures could be explained in all cases by the presence of leaks or holes in the neointima at the level of the transition zones.
Conclusion: FDs did not successfully treat most bifurcation aneurysms, at least in this animal model.