Pediatric brain aneurysms: a review of 1458 brain MR angiograms

Childs Nerv Syst. 2023 Nov;39(11):3249-3254. doi: 10.1007/s00381-023-05967-4. Epub 2023 Apr 25.


Purpose: To evaluate clinical and imaging characteristics of pediatric brain aneurysms.

Materials and methods: A retrospective review of 1458 MR angiograms of pediatric patients (≤18 years old) obtained between 2006 and 2021 was performed. A non-infundibular arterial luminal outpouching larger than 1mm in size was identified as an "Intracranial aneurysm." Patient demographics, clinical presentations, and predisposing risk factors, including family history and underlying medical conditions, were reviewed. MRA images were analyzed for aneurysm location, number, maximum diameter, and interval changes on follow-up.

Results: Forty-nine (3.3%) patients (30 females, 19 males) with 64 intracranial aneurysms were identified with an average age of 13.71 ± 3.67 years. Eleven (22.4%) patients had multiple aneurysms. An underlying systemic illness was observed in 81.6% (40/49) cases, with sickle cell disease as the most frequent (25/49, 51%) diagnosis. A first-degree family history of intracranial aneurysms was recognized in 36/1458 (2.5%) patients. However, no intracranial aneurysm was found in this group. While 02/49 (4%) patients presented with acute SAH, headache was the most common (16/49, 32.7%) symptom at presentation in unruptured cases. The majority (47/64, 73.4%) of the aneurysms were located in the anterior circulation, with the ICA ophthalmic segment being most frequently (24/47, 51%) involved. Most (54/64, 84.4%) aneurysms were smaller than 4mm in size at the time of diagnosis. At least one follow-up MRA was obtained in 72.3% (34/47) of the unruptured aneurysms cohort. There was no change in the aneurysm size and morphology in 31/34 (91.2 %) patients over an average imaging follow-up of 39.6 months. Three (6%) patients demonstrated an interval increase in the aneurysm size. SAH patients (n=2) and two unruptured aneurysm patients with an interval increase in size were successfully treated with endovascular techniques.

Conclusion: Female predominance with a higher frequency of small and unruptured intracranial aneurysms was recognized in our cohort. A higher incidence of an underlying systemic illness, especially sickle cell disease, was also noted. Most intracranial aneurysms in children appear to remain stable. However, there seems to be the risk of an aneurysm size increase which warrants regular clinical and imaging follow-up.

Keywords: Brain aneurysm; MR angiography; Pediatric; Sickle cell disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell*
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured*
  • Angiography
  • Brain
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / surgery
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors