Role of Hemodynamic Forces in Unruptured Intracranial Aneurysms: An Overview of a Complex Scenario

World Neurosurg. 2017 Sep;105:632-642. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.06.035. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Background: An understanding of the natural history of unruptured intracranial aneurysms (IAs) has always played a critical role in presurgical or endovascular planning, to avoid possibly fatal events. Size, shape, morphology, and location are known risk factors for rupture of an aneurysm, but morphologic parameters alone may not be sufficient to perform proper rupture risk stratification.

Methods: We performed a systematic PubMed search and focused on hemodynamics forces that may influence aneurysmal initiation, growth, and rupture.

Results: We included 223 studies describing several hemodynamic parameters related to aneurysm natural history. In these studies, different modalities of aneurysm model creation have been used to evaluate flow and to comprehensively analyze the evolution of IAs. Controversy exists about the correlation between these parameters and initiation, growth, rupture risk, or stabilization of the aneurysmal sac. Recent findings have also shown the importance of flow patterns in this process and the relationship between unruptured IA geometry and hemodynamic parameters.

Conclusions: The role of hemodynamic forces in evaluation of the natural history of unruptured IAs presents is inherently complex and is still not completely understood. In this complex scenario, although several attempts have been described in the literature, a proper risk rupture stratification and treatment strategy selection based on hemodynamic forces has not yet been created. Further efforts should be made to accomplish this important goal.

Keywords: Cerebral aneurysm; Computational fluid dynamics; Hemodynamics; Intracranial aneurysms; Wall shear stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Angiography / methods
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology*