Irregular pulsation of intracranial unruptured aneurysm detected by four-dimensional CT angiography is associated with increased estimated rupture risk and conventional risk factors

J Neurointerv Surg. 2021 Sep;13(9):854-859. doi: 10.1136/neurintsurg-2020-016811. Epub 2021 Jan 20.


Background: Intracranial aneurysms (IAs) are common in the population and current imaging-based rupture risk assessment needs to be refined. We aimed to use four-dimensional CT angiography (4D-CTA) to investigate the associations of irregular pulsation of IAs with conventional risk factors and the estimated rupture risk.

Methods: One hundred and five patients with 117 asymptomatic IAs underwent 4D-CTA. Geometric and morphologic parameters were measured and the presence of irregular pulsation (defined as a temporary focal protuberance ≥1 mm on more than three successive frames) was identified on 4D-CTA movies. One- and 5 year aneurysm rupture risk were estimated using UCAS and PHASES calculators. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to investigate the conventional risk factors associated with irregular pulsation.

Results: Irregular pulsation was observed in 41.0% (48/117) of IAs. Aneurysm size (OR=1.380, 95% CI 1.165 to 1.634), irregular shape (OR=3.737, 95% CI 1.108 to 12.608), and internal carotid artery location (OR=0.151, 95% CI 0.056 to 0.403) were independently associated with irregular pulsation (P<0.05). Aneurysms with irregular pulsation had more than a 6-fold higher estimated rupture risk (1- and 5-year risk [95% CI], 1.56% [0.42%-3.91%], and 2.40% [1.30%-4.30%], respectively) than aneurysms without irregular pulsation (0.23% [0.14%-0.78%] and 0.40% [0.40%-1.30%], respectively) (P<0.001).

Conclusions: IAs with irregular pulsation are associated with larger size, irregular-shape, and non-ICA origin, and have more than a 6-fold higher estimated 1- and 5-year rupture risk than aneurysms without irregular pulsation. Irregular pulsation should be validated in future longitudinal studies to determine its predictive value for aneurysm growth and rupture.

Keywords: CT angiography; aneurysm; vessel wall.

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, Ruptured* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Four-Dimensional Computed Tomography
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / diagnostic imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors