Blister Aneurysms of the Internal Carotid Artery: Microsurgical Results and Management Strategy

Neurosurgery. 2017 Feb 1;80(2):235-247. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000001259.


Background: Blister aneurysms of the supraclinoid internal carotid artery (ICA) are challenging lesions with high intraoperative rupture rates and significant morbidity. An optimal treatment strategy for these aneurysms has not been established.

Objective: To analyze treatment strategy, operative techniques, and outcomes in a consecutive 17-year series of ICA blister aneurysms treated microsurgically.

Methods: Seventeen patients underwent blister aneurysm treatment with direct clipping, bypass and trapping, or clip-reinforced wrapping

Results: Twelve aneurysms (71%) were treated with direct surgical clipping. Three patients required bypass: 1 superficial temporal artery to middle cerebral artery bypass, 1 external carotid artery to middle cerebral artery bypass, and 1 ICA to middle cerebral artery bypass. One patient was treated with clip-reinforced wrapping. Initial treatment strategy was enacted 71% of the time. Intraoperative rupture occurred in 7 patients (41%), doubling the rate of a poor outcome (57% vs 30% for patients with and without intraoperative rupture, respectively). Severe vasospasm developed in 9 of 16 patients (56%). Twelve patients (65%) were improved or unchanged after treatment, and 10 patients (59%) had good outcomes (modified Rankin Scale scores of 1 or 2).

Conclusion: ICA blister aneurysms can be cautiously explored and treated with direct clipping as the first-line technique in the majority of cases. Complete trapping of the parent artery with temporary clips and placing permanent clip blades along normal arterial walls enables clipping that avoids intraoperative aneurysm rupture. Trapping/bypass is used as the second-line treatment, maintaining a low threshold for bypass with extensive or friable pathology of the carotid wall and in patients with incomplete circles of Willis.

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery, Internal / surgery*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Microsurgery*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures*