JOURNAL ARTICLE

Coil embolization for intracranial aneurysms: an evidence-based analysis

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Ontario Health Technology Assessment Series 2006, 6 (1): 1-114
23074479

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of coil embolization compared with surgical clipping to treat intracranial aneurysms.

THE TECHNOLOGY: Endovascular coil embolization is a percutaneous approach to treat an intracranial aneurysm from within the blood vessel without the need of a craniotomy. In this procedure, a microcatheter is inserted into the femoral artery near the groin and navigated to the site of the aneurysm. Small helical platinum coils are deployed through the microcatheter to fill the aneurysm, and prevent it from further expansion and rupture. Health Canada has approved numerous types of coils and coil delivery systems to treat intracranial aneurysms. The most favoured are controlled detachable coils. Coil embolization may be used with other adjunct endovascular devices such as stents and balloons.

BACKGROUND: INTRACRANIAL ANEURYSMS: Intracranial aneurysms are the dilation or ballooning of part of a blood vessel in the brain. Intracranial aneurysms range in size from small (<12 mm in diameter) to large (12-25 mm), and to giant (>25 mm). There are 3 main types of aneurysms. Fusiform aneurysms involve the entire circumference of the artery; saccular aneurysms have outpouchings; and dissecting aneurysms have tears in the arterial wall. Berry aneurysms are saccular aneurysms with well-defined necks. Intracranial aneurysms may occur in any blood vessel of the brain; however, they are most commonly found at the branch points of large arteries that form the circle of Willis at the base of the brain. In 85% to 95% of patients, they are found in the anterior circulation. Aneurysms in the posterior circulation are less frequent, and are more difficult to treat surgically due to inaccessibility. Most intracranial aneurysms are small and asymptomatic. Large aneurysms may have a mass effect, causing compression on the brain and cranial nerves and neurological deficits. When an intracranial aneurysm ruptures and bleeds, resulting in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), the mortality rate can be 40% to 50%, with severe morbidity of 10% to 20%. The reported overall risk of rupture is 1.9% per year and is higher for women, cigarette smokers, and cocaine users, and in aneurysms that are symptomatic, greater than 10 mm in diameter, or located in the posterior circulation. If left untreated, there is a considerable risk of repeat hemorrhage in a ruptured aneurysm that results in increased mortality. In Ontario, intracranial aneurysms occur in about 1% to 4% of the population, and the annual incidence of SAH is about 10 cases per 100,000 people. In 2004-2005, about 660 intracranial aneurysm repairs were performed in Ontario. TREATMENT OF INTRACRANIAL ANEURYSMS: Treatment of an unruptured aneurysm attempts to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing. The treatment of a ruptured intracranial aneurysm aims to prevent further hemorrhage. There are 3 approaches to treating an intracranial aneurysm. Small, asymptomatic aneurysms less than 10 mm in diameter may be monitored without any intervention other than treatment for underlying risk factors such as hypertension. Open surgical clipping, involves craniotomy, brain retraction, and placement of a silver clip across the neck of the aneurysm while a patient is under general anesthesia. This procedure is associated with surgical risks and neurological deficits. Endovascular coil embolization, introduced in the 1990s, is the health technology under review.

LITERATURE REVIEW: <AbstractText Label="METHODS" NlmCategory="METHODS">The Medical Advisory Secretariat searched the International Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) Database and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to identify relevant systematic reviews. OVID Medline, Medline In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, and Embase were searched for English-language journal articles that reported primary data on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of treatments for intracranial aneurysms, obtained in a clinical setting or analyses of primary data maintained in registers or institutional databases. Internet searches of Medscape and manufacturers' databases were conducted to identify product information and recent reports on trials that were unpublished but that were presented at international conferences. Four systematic reviews, 3 reports on 2 randomized controlled trials comparing coil embolization with surgical clipping of ruptured aneurysms, 30 observational studies, and 3 economic analysis reports were included in this review.

RESULTS: SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS: Coil embolization appears to be a safe procedure. Complications associated with coil embolization ranged from 8.6% to 18.6% with a median of about 10.6%. Observational studies showed that coil embolization is associated with lower complication rates than surgical clipping (permanent complication 3-7% versus 10.9%; overall 23% versus 46% respectively, p=0.009). Common complications of coil embolization are thrombo-embolic events (2.5%-14.5%), perforation of aneurysm (2.3%-4.7%), parent artery obstruction (2%-3%), collapsed coils (8%), coil malposition (14.6%), and coil migration (0.5%-3%). Randomized controlled trials showed that for ruptured intracranial aneurysms with SAH, suitable for both coil embolization and surgical clipping (mostly saccular aneurysms <10 mm in diameter located in the anterior circulation) in people with good clinical condition:Coil embolization resulted in a statistically significant 23.9% relative risk reduction and 7% absolute risk reduction in the composite rate of death and dependency compared to surgical clipping (modified Rankin score 3-6) at 1-year. The advantage of coil embolization over surgical clipping varies widely with aneurysm location, but endovascular treatment seems beneficial for all sites. There were less deaths in the first 7 years following coil embolization compared to surgical clipping (10.8% vs 13.7%). This survival benefit seemed to be consistent over time, and was statistically significant (log-rank p= 0.03). Coil embolization is associated with less frequent MRI-detected superficial brain deficits and ischemic lesions at 1-year. The 1- year rebleeding rate was 2.4% after coil embolization and 1% for surgical clipping. Confirmed rebleeding from the repaired aneurysm after the first year and up to year eight was low and not significantly different between coil embolization and surgical clipping (7 patients for coil embolization vs 2 patients for surgical clipping, log-rank p=0.22). Observational studies showed that patients with SAH and good clinical grade had better 6-month outcomes and lower risk of symptomatic cerebral vasospasm after coil embolization compared to surgical clipping. For unruptured intracranial aneurysms, there were no randomized controlled trials that compared coil embolization to surgical clipping. Large observational studies showed that: The risk of rupture in unruptured aneurysms less than 10 mm in diameter is about 0.05% per year for patients with no pervious history of SAH from another aneurysm. The risk of rupture increases with history of SAH and as the diameter of the aneurysm reaches 10 mm or more. Coil embolization reduced the composite rate of in hospital deaths and discharge to long-term or short-term care facilities compared to surgical clipping (Odds Ratio 2.2, 95% CI 1.6-3.1, p<0.001). The improvement in discharge disposition was highest in people older than 65 years. In-hospital mortality rate following treatment of intracranial aneurysm ranged from 0.5% to 1.7% for coil embolization and from 2.1% to 3.5% for surgical clipping. The overall 1-year mortality rate was 3.1% for coil embolization and 2.3% for surgical clipping. One-year morbidity rate was 6.4% for coil embolization and 9.8% for surgical clipping. It is not clear whether these differences were statistically significant. Coil embolization is associated with shorter hospital stay compared to surgical clipping. For both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms, the outcome of coil embolization does not appear to be dependent on age, whereas surgical clipping has been shown to yield worse outcome for patients older than 64 years. ANGIOGRAPHIC EFFICIENCY AND RECURRENCES: The main drawback of coil embolization is its low angiographic efficiency. The percentage of complete aneurysm occlusion after coil embolization (27%-79%, median 55%) remains lower than that achieved with surgical clipping (82%-100%). However, about 90% of coiled aneurysms achieve near total occlusion or better. Incompletely coiled aneurysms have been shown to have higher aneurysm recurrence rates ranging from 7% to 39% for coil embolization compared to 2.9% for surgical clipping. Recurrence is defined as refilling of the neck, sac, or dome of a successfully treated aneurysm as shown on an angiogram. The long-term clinical significance of incomplete occlusion following coil embolization is unknown, but in one case series, 20% of patients had major recurrences, and 50% of these required further treatment. LONG-TERM OUTCOMES: A large international randomized trial reported that the survival benefit from coil embolization was sustained for at least 7 years. The rebleeding rate between year 2 and year 8 following coil embolization was low and not significantly different from that of surgical clipping. However, high quality long-term angiographic evidence is lacking. Accordingly, there is uncertainty about long-term occlusion status, coil durability, and recurrence rates. While surgical clipping is associated with higher immediate procedural risks, its long-term effectiveness has been established. INDICATIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: Coil embolization offers treatment for people at increased risk for craniotomy, such as those over 65 years of age, with poor clinical status, or with comorbid conditions. The technology also makes it possible to treat surgical high-risk aneurysms. Not all aneurysms are suitable for coil embolization. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

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