Frequency and risk factors for postoperative aneurysm residual after microsurgical clipping

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:131–138

Aneurysm residuals after clipping are a well-known problem, but the course of aneurysm remnants in follow-up is not well studied. No standards or follow-up guidelines exist for treatment of aneurysm remnants. The aim of this study was to evaluate the risk factors for postoperative aneurysm remnants and their changes during follow-up.

Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of 666 aneurysms treated via clipping in our hospital from 2006 to 2016. Postoperative and follow-up angiographic data were analyzed for aneurysm remnants and regrowth. Clinical parameters and aneurysm-specific characteristics were correlated with radiological results.

Results The frequency of aneurysm residuals was 12% (78/666). Aneurysms located in the middle cerebral artery (p = 0.02) showed a significantly lower risk for incomplete aneurysm occlusion. Larger aneurysms with a diameter of 11–25 mm (p = 0.005) showed a significantly higher risk for incomplete aneurysm occlusion. Five patients underwent re-clipping during the same hospital stay. Remnants were stratified based on morphological characteristics into “dog ears” (n = 60) and “broad based” (n = 13). The majority of the “dog ears” stayed stable, decreased in size, or vanished during follow-up. Broad-based remnants showed a higher risk of regrowth.

Conclusions A middle cerebral artery location seems to lower the risk for the incomplete clip occlusion of an aneurysm. Greater aneurysm size (11–25 mm) is associated with a postoperative aneurysm remnant. The majority of “dog-ear” remnants appear to remain stable during follow-up. In these cases, unnecessarily frequent angiographic checks could be avoided. By contrast, broadbased residuals show a higher risk of regrowth that requires close imaging controls if retreatment cannot be performed immediately.