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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 84-86

Giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms: Unusual cases

Department of Neurosurgery, Neurosciences Center, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi-110029

Correspondence Address:
Department of Neurosurgery Neurosciences Center, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi-110029
[email protected]

 » Abstract 

Giant vertebrobasilar (VB) junction aneurysms are uncommon aneurysms, especially those associated with multiple aneurysms of the posterior circulation. We report two cases, one with a small and a giant aneurysm of the VB junction which were surgically clipped; and the other with a small left anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) aneurysm which resolved spontaneously. The patient, however, developed a de-novo giant VB junction aneurysm, which was detected on a follow-up angiogram. This aneurysm was treated by surgical clipping. The clinical features, angiographic considerations and surgical treatment of such rare conditions are discussed and the relevant literature reviewed.

How to cite this article:
Suri A, Mehta V S. Giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms: Unusual cases . Neurol India 2003;51:84-6

How to cite this URL:
Suri A, Mehta V S. Giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms: Unusual cases . Neurol India [serial online] 2003 [cited 2023 Jan 27];51:84-6. Available from: https://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2003/51/1/84/1043

Posterior circulation aneurysms account for approximately 15% of all intracranial aneurysms.[1] Vertebrobasilar (VB) junction aneurysms are uncommon, comprising only 3-4% of the aneurysms of the posterior circulation.[1] At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, 42 (6.4%) posterior circulation aneurysms were operated of a total of 654 intracranial aneurysms, from January 1996 to October 2000.[2] VB junction aneurysms are uncommon; however, we have encountered two patients with unusual presentations.
Multiple aneurysms of the VB junction associated with a giant aneurysm have not been reported till date. We report a case with a giant as well as a small aneurysm at the VB junction who underwent successful surgical clipping. The other case is one of a small anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) aneurysm which underwent spontaneous resolution, and formation of a de-novo giant VB junction aneurysm which was successfully clipped. This unusual feature of the spontaneous regression of the AICA aneurysm and de novo formation of another at the VB junction, which attained a giant size, has not been reported so far. The clinical features, angiographic considerations, surgical treatment and pathogenesis of these unusual conditions are discussed and the relevant literature reviewed.

  »   Case Report

Case 1: A 60-year-old lady presented with history of sudden onset severe excruciating headache followed by transient loss of conciousness. She also complained of impairment of vision in the right eye and she had neck stiffness. She was a known hypertensive for four years and was on irregular treatment. Clinical examination revealed an alert and oriented individual. She had neck stiffness. Visual acuity was normal in the left eye while there was only perception of light in the right eye, which also showed subhyaloid hemorrhages. A clinical diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), Hunt and Hess grade[3]-II was made. Computerized Tomography (C.T.) scan of the head showed diffuse SAH with intraventricular extension without any evidence of ventriculomegaly. A digital subtraction angiography (DSA) revealed giant and small vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms [Figure - 1]. She underwent clipping of both aneurysms through a left, far lateral, transcondylar suboccipital approach.[2],[4] She had a stormy postoperative course, which included drainage of subdural hygroma, multiple shunt revisions due to recurrent blockade and chest infection. She improved gradually and was discharged with mild residual impairment of lower cranial nerves and left cerebellar signs. These signs became near normal over the next six months. Check angiogram revealed well clipped aneurysms.

Case 2: A 22-year-old male presented with five episodes of sudden onset, moderately severe headache over two months. The patient did not pay much attention to it till the last episode following which he developed altered sensorium. Clinical examination revealed a stupurose individual with Glasgow Coma Score E2V2M5 with normal pupillary size and reaction, hyperaemic optic discs, left hemiparesis and extensor plantars and with severe neck stiffness. A clinical diagnosis of SAH grade IV was made. CT scan of the head revealed SAH and a thick clot in the prepontine cistern with moderate ventriculomegaly. A medium pressure ventriculoperitoneal shunt was inserted. DSA revealed a small left AICA aneurysm filling from the right vertebral artery; the left vertebral artery being hypoplastic [Figure - 2]. Definitive surgery was delayed till the patient improved over the next three weeks. A left retromastoid craniectomy was performed; exploration revealed no aneurysm of the AICA or the basilar-AICA junction. A follow-up angiogram after four weeks revealed a giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm filling from the right vertebral artery and non-visualization of the left AICA aneurysm [Figure - 3]. The patient underwent clipping of the giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm through a right far lateral transcondylar suboccipital approach.[2],[4] He improved gradually over time and was discharged with minimal left hemiparesis which improved at one year follow-up. Check angiogram after two weeks and nine months revealed well- clipped VB junction aneurysm and no aneurysm at basilar-AICA junction.

  »   Discussion Top

In 1968 Kenneth Jamieson, one of the pioneers in the surgical treatment of posterior circulation aneurysms, said “It is clear that the posterior circulation is no place for the faint of heart”.[2] Aneurysms of the vertebrobasilar system are a real challenge for neurosurgeons and their treatment undergoes constant change.
Multiple aneurysms in the posterior circulation are an uncommon occurrence. In Drake and Peerless' series of 1767 patients, there were 113 (6.4%) patients with multiple aneurysms of the posterior circulation.[5] The VB junction was associated with other aneurysms of the posterior circulation in 1.5% of their cases.[6] None of the 39 giant aneurysms of the VB junction in Drake's series was associated with other aneurysms of the posterior circulation; surgical treatment was associated with 21% mortality and 18% morbidity.[6] Sporadic reports of multiple posterior circulation aneurysms exist in the literature;[7],[8],[9],[10] Konishi et al reported as many as five aneurysms of the vertebrobasilar system in a single patient.[7] Association of multiple posterior circulation aneurysms with sickle cell disease is reported by Batjer et al[11] and reviewed by Preul et al,[12] with polyarteritis nodosa by Oran et al[13] and with pulseless disease by Masuzawa et al.[14] Our series was not associated with any such coexisting vascular affection. The present case of coexisting small and giant aneurysms at the VB junction is the first case in our review of existing medical literature.
Angiographically confirmed formation of a new cerebral aneurysm (de-novo) is uncommon.[15],[16],[17],[18],[19] De-novo aneurysms in the posterior circulation are rare. Miller et al reported two cases of de novo basilar aneurysms and another case of SCA aneurysm.[15] Koeleveld et al have reported a single case of de novo basilar aneurysm. Three cases of de novo aneurysms of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) are individually reported.[16],[17],[18] Rinne et al series of 13 de novo aneurysms does not contain any posterior circulation aneurysms.[19] The present case is the first report of a de-novo giant aneurysm at the VB junction in the existing medical literature.
The disappearance of the left AICA aneurysm and de-novo appearance of the Rt. vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm are a unique phenomenon. It would be difficult to explain it on the basis of arterial dissection since the characteristic angiographic findings are absent. Its explanation on the basis of a traumatic pseudoaneurysm is also unlikely as exploration of the Lt. AICA-Basilar junction is not likely to cause operative handling and injury at the Rt. Vertebrobasilar junction. Dissecting aneurysms of the vertebrobasilar circulation most commonly involve the vertebral or the basilar arteries and are either spontaneous or are associated with arteriopathy such as fibromuscular dysplasia. Traumatic dissections most commonly involve the extracranial vertebral artery from C2 to the occiput.[20] SAH is a rare presentation of dissecting intracranial aneurysms.[7] Friedman and Drake reviewed 20 cases of dissecting posterior circulation aneurysms which presented as SAH.[21]
The literature contains sporadic cases of angiographically confirmed spontaneous thrombosis or resolution of intracranial aneurysms.[22],[23],[24],[25],[26] Maiuri et al postulated their association with severe cerebral vasospasm, giant aneurysms, thrombosis of feeding artery and antifibrinolytic therapy.[25] Spontaneous resolution is more commonly seen with aneurysms of the vertebrobasilar system.[10],[23] However, spontaneous resolution of the AICA aneurysm has not been reported earlier. 

 » References Top

1.Peerless SJ, Drake CG. Posterior circulation aneurysms. In: Wilkins RH, Rengachary SS, eds. Neurosurgery. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1985. pp. 1422-36.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Mehta VS, Suri A, Mishra NK, et al. Progress in Clinical Neurosciences. In: Venkataraman S, Mishra BK, eds. Posterior circulation aneurysms. Neurological Society of India. 1999. pp. 127-150.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Hunt WE, Hess RM. Surgical risk as related to time of intervention in the repair of intracranial aneurysms. J Neurosurg 1968;14-20.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Day JD, Giannotta SL. Posterior Circulation Aneurysms. In: Youmans JR, editor. Neurological Surgery. USA: Saunders; 1996. pp. 1335-53.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Drake CG, Peerless SJ, Hernesniemi JA. Surgery of the Vertebrobasilar Aneurysms-Experience on 1767 patients. In: Peerless SJ, Hernesniemi JA, eds. Multiple aneurysms. London, Ontario: Wien New York: Springer; 1995. pp. 249-55.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Drake CG, Peerless SJ, Hernesniemi JA. Surgery of the Vertebrobasilar Aneurysms-Experience on 1767 patients. In: Peerless SJ, Hernesniemi JA, eds. London, Ontario: Wien New York: Springer; 1995. pp. 177-94.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Konishi Y, Sato E, Shiokawa Y. A combined surgical and endovascular treatment for a case with five vertebrobasilar aneurysms and bilateral internal carotid artery occludions. Surg Neurol 1998;50:363-6.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Massoud TF, Guglielmi G, Vinuela F. Endovascular treatment of multiple aneurysms involving the posterior intracranial circulation. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 1996;17:549-54.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Miyazaki S, Kamata K, Yamaura A. Multiple aneurysms of the vertebrobasilar system associated with fenestration of the vertebral artery. Surg Neurol 1981;15:192-5.  Back to cited text no. 9  [PUBMED]  
10.Nanda A, Drury BT. Posterior circulation aneurysms in a child, clipping of one leads to spontaneous thrombosis of the other. Pediatr Neurosurg 1997;26:41-7.  Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  
11.Batjer HH, Adamson TE, Bowman GW. Sickle cell disease and aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage. Surg Neurol 1991;36:145-9.  Back to cited text no. 11  [PUBMED]  
12.Preul MC, Cendes F, Just N. Intracranial aneurysms and sickle cell anaemia:multiplicity and propensity for the vertebrobasilar territory. Neurosurgery 1998;42:971-7.  Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Oran I, Memis A, Parildar M. Multiple intracranial aneurysms in polyarteritis nodosa: MRI and angiography. Neuroradiology 1999;41:436-9.  Back to cited text no. 13    
14.Masuzawa T, Kurokawa T, Oguro K. Pulseless disease associated with multiple intracranial aneurysms. Neuroradiology 1986;28:17-22.  Back to cited text no. 14    
15.Miller CA, Hill SA, Hunt WE. De novo aneurysms. A clinical review. Surg Neurol 1985;24:173-80.  Back to cited text no. 15  [PUBMED]  
16.De Witte O, Noterman J, Abramowicz M, et al. Multiple and de novo aneurysms in Ehlers Danlos syndrome Neurochirurgie 1997;43:250-4.  Back to cited text no. 16    
17.Kanemoto Y, Hisanaga M, Bessho H. De novo vertebral artery- posterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysm: a case report. Surg Neurol 1997;47:473-5.  Back to cited text no. 17    
18.Kojima A, Nakamura T, Takayama H, et al. A case of de novo aneurysm of the distal posterior inferior cerebellar artery with intraventricular haemorrhage. No Shinkei Geka 1996;24:469-73.  Back to cited text no. 18    
19.Rinne JK, Hernesniemi JA. De novo aneurysms: special multiple intracranial aneurysms. Neurosurgery 1993;33:981-5.  Back to cited text no. 19    
20.Sengupta RP, McAllister VL. Intracranial aneurysms. In: Sengupta RP, McAllister VL, eds. Subarachnoid Haemorrhage. USA: Springer-Verlag; pp. 3-49.   Back to cited text no. 20    
21.Friedman AH, Drake CG. Subarachnoid haemorrhage from intracranial dissecting aneurysms. J Neurosurg 1984;60:325-34.  Back to cited text no. 21    
22.Gerber S, Dormont D, Sahel M, et al. Complete spontaneous thrombosis of a giant intracranial aneurysm. Neuroradiology 1994;36:316-7.  Back to cited text no. 22    
23.Kumar S, Rao VR, Mandalam KR. Disappearance of a cerebral aneurysm-an unusual angiographic event. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 1991;93:151-3.  Back to cited text no. 23    
24.Lodin H. Spontaneous thrombosis of cerebral aneurysms. Br J Radiology 1966;39:701-3.  Back to cited text no. 24    
25.Maiuri F, Iaconetta G, Giamundo A, et al. Spontaneous cure of a ruptured intracranial aneurysm. Acta Neurol (Napoli) 1993;15:106-13.  Back to cited text no. 25    
26.Sobel FD, Delessio D, Copeland B, et al. Cerebral aneurysm thrombosis, shrinkage, then disappearance after subarachnoid haemorrhage. Surg Neurol 1996;45:133-7.  Back to cited text no. 26    


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