Purpose: Flow diversion constitutes a pivotal advancement in endovascular intracranial aneurysm treatment, but requires development of a new skill set. The aim of this study is to determine whether outcomes after treatment with the Pipeline Embolization Device improve with experience.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all patients with intracranial aneurysms treated with Pipeline at two centers over a 4.5-year period. Baseline patient and aneurysm characteristics, complications, and angiographic outcomes were analyzed.
Results: One hundred forty patients underwent 150 Pipeline procedures to treat 167 intracranial aneurysms during the study period, 109 women, mean age 55.4 years. One hundred twenty-six aneurysms were ICA, mean size 10.2 mm and mean neck 6.4 mm. Intra-procedural technical difficulties were higher during the first 75 procedures compared with the subsequent 75 (13.3 vs 2.7%; p = 0.03), as combined major morbidity and neurological mortality (14.7 vs 4%; p = 0.046). In multivariate regression analysis, increased operator experience with Pipeline remained an independent predictor of intra-procedural technical difficulties (p = 0.02, odds ratio (OR) 0.015, 95% CI 0.0004-0.55) and combined major morbidity and neurological mortality (p = 0.03, OR 0.16, 95% CI 0.03-0.84). At last follow-up, 123 aneurysms were completely occluded (81.5%, mean 24 months). In our cohort, age ≤ 53 years was an independent predictor of complete aneurysm occlusion at last follow-up (p = 0.001, OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.88-0.97). Five aneurysms were retreated (3.3%).
Conclusion: The Pipeline embolization device is an effective treatment for intracranial aneurysms. The risk of intra-procedural technical difficulties and combined major morbidity and neurological mortality decreases significantly with increased operator experience in Pipeline deployment and patient management.
Keywords: Aneurysm; Flow diverter; Hemorrhage; Pipeline; Stroke.