Morphological changes in human cerebral arteries after percutaneous transluminal angioplasty for vasospasm caused by subarachnoid hemorrhage

Neurosurgery. 1995 Jun;36(6):1073-80; discussion 1080-1. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199506000-00002.


Light and electron microscopy were used to study morphological changes in cerebral arteries after percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) for vasospasm in two patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. One patient died of gastric bleeding 5 days after PTA. Postmortem examination of the inflated middle cerebral arteries revealed heterogeneously extended walls and dilated lumina. Throughout the vessel walls, the extracellular matrix, which was composed of nonmuscle components such as increased collagen, was stretched in conjunction with the medial muscle component. Also, torn and thinned areas of the wall and intramural hemorrhages were caused by overinflation. The second patient died of massive cerebral infarction caused by diffuse vasospasm 5 days after PTA. Prominent stretching of the walls at the atheromatous plaque margin in the dilated vessel was found in addition to the morphological changes observed in the first patient. These observations suggest that characteristic pathological alterations might be present in the vessel wall at the site of angioplasty. The major mechanism of the long-lasting effects of PTA seems to be the stretching and disruption of both the degenerative muscle and the proliferative nonmuscle components, mainly in the media of the vasospastic vessels.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angioplasty, Balloon*
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebral Infarction / pathology
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibromuscular Dysplasia / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / therapy
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / pathology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / therapy*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tunica Media / pathology


  • Collagen