Aneurysm diameter as a risk factor for pretreatment rebleeding: a meta-analysis

J Neurosurg. 2015 Apr;122(4):921-8. doi: 10.3171/2014.12.JNS14931. Epub 2015 Feb 6.


Object: Aneurysmal rerupture prior to treatment is a major cause of death and morbidity in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Recognizing risk factors for aneurysmal rebleeding is particularly relevant and might help to identify the aneurysms that benefit from acute treatment. It is uncertain if the size of the aneurysm is related to rebleeding. This meta-analysis was performed to evaluate whether an association could be determined between aneurysm diameter and the rebleeding rate before treatment. Potentially confounding factors such age, aneurysm location, and the presence of hypertension were also evaluated.

Methods: The authors systematically searched the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane databases up to April 3, 2013, for studies of patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage that reported the association between aneurysm diameter and pretreatment aneurysmal rebleeding. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria were used to evaluate study quality.

Results: Seven studies, representing 2121 patients, were included in the quantitative analysis. The quality of the studies was low in 2 and very low in 5. Almost all of the studies used 10 mm as the cutoff point for size among other classes, and only one used 7 mm. An analysis was performed with this best unifiable cutoff point. Overall rebleeding occurred in 360 (17.0%) of 2121 patients (incidence range, from study to study, 8.7%-28.4%). The rate of rebleeding in small and large aneurysms was 14.0% and 23.6%, respectively. The meta-analysis of the 7 studies revealed that larger size aneurysms were at a higher risk for rebleeding (OR 2.56 [95% CI 1.62-4.06]; p = 0.00; I (2) = 60%). The sensitivity analysis did not alter the results. Five of the 7 studies reported data regarding age; 4 studies provided age-adjusted results and identified a persistent relationship between lesion size and the risk of rebleeding. The presence of hypertension was reported in two studies and was more prevalent in patients with rebleeding in one of these. Location (anterior vs posterior circulation) was reported in 5 studies, while in 4 there was no difference in the rebleeding rate. One study identified a lower risk of rebleeding associated with posterior location aneurysms.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis showed that aneurysm size is an important risk factor for aneurysmal rebleeding and should be used in the clinical risk assessment of individual patients. The authors' results confirmed the current guidelines and underscored the importance of acute treatment for large ruptured aneurysms.

Keywords: GRADE = Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; intracranial aneurysm; meta-analysis; recurrence; risk; subarachnoid hemorrhage; vascular disorders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / pathology*
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors