Wall enhancement as a biomarker of intracranial aneurysm instability: a histo‑radiological study

Acta Neurochirurgica (2023) 165:2783–2791

The aim of this is to explore the histological basis of vessel wall enhancement (WE) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is a strong radiological biomarker of aneurysmal prone to rupture compared to other classical risk predictors (e.g., PHASES score, size, morphology).

Methods A prospective observational study was performed including all consecutive patients presenting with a saccular intracranial aneurysm at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital between October 2017 and May 2019. The patients underwent high-resolution 3 T MRI, and their aneurysms were classified into asymptomatic, symptomatic, and ruptured. A histological and immunohistochemical study was performed in a subgroup of patients (n = 20, of which 15 presented with WE). Multiple regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of rupture and aneurysm symptoms.

Results A total of 132 patients were enrolled in the study. WE was present in 36.5% of aneurysms: 22.9% asymptomatic, 76.9% symptomatic, and 100% ruptured. Immunohistochemical markers associated with WE were CD3 T cell receptor (p = 0.05) and CD45 leukocyte common antigen (p = 0.05). Moreover, WE is an independent predictor of symptomatic and ruptured aneurysms (p < 0.001).

Conclusions Aneurysms with WE present multiple histopathological changes that may contribute to wall disruption and represent the pathophysiological basis of radiological WE. Moreover, WE is an independent diagnostic predictor of aneurysm symptoms and rupture.