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Spontaneous resolution of an isolated cervical anterior spinal artery aneurysm after subarachnoid hemorrhage.
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PMID:  25317354     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Isolated cervical anterior spinal artery aneurysms are extremely rare. Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) secondary to such lesions have been described only in six cases to the best of our knowledge.
CASE DESCRIPTION: We describe an unusual clinical picture of SAH due to rupture of anterior spinal artery aneurysm in a patient with previous normal angiogram. Due to the location of the aneurysm and clinical status of the patient, conservative management was proposed, and she was discharged to further follow-up. Monthly routine angiograms revealed resolution of the aneurysm 90 days after bleeding, which was highly suggestive of vascular dissection.
CONCLUSION: We highlight the need to consider these aneurysms in the differential diagnosis of SAH, especially when occurring in the posterior fossa and when angiography findings are inconclusive.
Felix Hendrik Pahl; Matheus Fernandes de Oliveira; Marcus Alexandre Cavalcanti Rotta; Guilherme Marcos Soares Dias; André Luiz Rezende; José Marcus Rotta
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2014-09-25
Journal Detail:
Title:  Surgical neurology international     Volume:  5     ISSN:  2229-5097     ISO Abbreviation:  Surg Neurol Int     Publication Date:  2014  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2014-10-15     Completed Date:  2014-10-15     Revised Date:  2014-10-18    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101535836     Medline TA:  Surg Neurol Int     Country:  India    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  139     Citation Subset:  -    
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From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): Surg Neurol Int
Journal ID (iso-abbrev): Surg Neurol Int
Journal ID (publisher-id): SNI
ISSN: 2229-5097
ISSN: 2152-7806
Publisher: Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, India
Article Information
Copyright: © 2014 Pahl FH.
Received Day: 09 Month: 4 Year: 2014
Accepted Day: 07 Month: 7 Year: 2014
collection publication date: Year: 2014
Electronic publication date: Day: 25 Month: 9 Year: 2014
Volume: 5E-location ID: 139
PubMed Id: 25317354
ID: 4192925
Publisher Id: SNI-5-139
DOI: 10.4103/2152-7806.141776

Spontaneous resolution of an isolated cervical anterior spinal artery aneurysm after subarachnoid hemorrhage
Felix Hendrik Pahlaff1 Email:
Matheus Fernandes de Oliveiraaff1* Email:
Marcus Alexandre Cavalcanti Rottaaff1 Email:
Guilherme Marcos Soares Diasaff1 Email:
André Luiz Rezendeaff1 Email:
José Marcus Rottaaff1 Email:
Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital do Servidor Público Estadual de São Paulo, IAMSPE, São Paulo, Brazil
*Corresponding author:


Isolated cervical anterior spinal artery (ASA) aneurysms are extremely rare.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] To the best of our knowledge, subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) secondary to such lesions has been described only in six cases.[6, 7, 8]

We report an unusual clinical picture of SAH due to rupture of ASA aneurysm in a patient with a previously normal angiogram, and highlight the need to consider this entity in the differential diagnosis of SAH of unknown etiology.


A 43-year-old female presented at an outside hospital with acute suboccipital headache and vomiting, which rapidly progressed to decreased level of consciousness and coma 12 h after headache onset. She was a regular smoker, but denied any preexisting medical conditions, such as hypertension, drug abuse, or vasculopathy. A complete laboratory profile was within normal limits.

She underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan of the head, which revealed SAH, intraventricular hemorrhage, and hydrocephalus [Figure 1]. At the time, she had a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 8. Emergent external ventricular drainage was performed.

The patient remained under sedation and endotracheal intubation for 10 days. Her course was complicated by development of ventilator-associated pneumonia. After broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy, sedation was withdrawn and she was extubated, maintaining a GCS of 15.

A control angiogram performed 10 days after bleeding revealed no abnormalities. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the neck revealed a laminar bleed at the right anterior cervicomedullary junction [Figure 1]. As the patient was stable, no additional treatment was planned, and cerebral angiography was repeated after 1 month. At that time, a 2-mm saccular aneurysm was found in the ASA, presumably the cause of SAH [Figure 1]. CT angiography performed at the same time could not display the aneurysm clearly [Figure 2].

Due to the location of the aneurysm and clinical status of the patient, conservative management was proposed, and she was discharged to further follow-up. Monthly routine angiograms revealed resolution of the aneurysm 90 days after bleeding (angiograms at 1- and 2-month follow-up were quite similar), which was highly suggestive of vascular dissection [Figure 3]. On follow-up angiography, the ASA was no longer visible. There was, however, a subtle abnormality in the course and caliber of the ASA at the corresponding segment, reinforcing the hypothesis of dissection.


Spinal artery aneurysms are rare findings.[1, 2, 3, 4] They are usually not associated with arterial branching sites and blood flow, being formed through different mechanisms than those involved in the pathogenesis of cerebral artery aneurysms.[1, 2] The main hypothesis points to inflammatory, infectious, and connective tissue diseases.[6, 7, 8] Traumatic events leading to arterial dissection and formation of pseudoaneurysms may play a role, although the exact mechanism is not clearly understood. There is also an association with arteriovenous malformations.[1, 2, 3, 4]

These aneurysms are found mainly in the upper cervical segment of the ASA and in the upper portion of the artery of Adamkiewicz. Mean age at presentation is approximately 52 years, and there is no evident gender predominance.[1] Both saccular and fusiform aneurysms occur, with predominance of the fusiform pattern. Approximately 30 cases have been described.[1] Symptoms correspond to the correlating brain and spine topography; headache, neck pain, decreased level of consciousness, and cranial nerve paresis are commonly found.[1]

Radiological investigation is essential, and a complete radiological workup should include CT and brain/cervical MRI to exclude angiomas and vascular malformations. Some advocate a full spinal angiogram and, at the very least, an upper spinal angiogram when blood is seen on cervical MRI. Angiography provides detailed information on aneurysm shape, size, direction, and location.[6, 7, 8]

Although controversy persists, the current experience suggests that surgical or endovascular treatment are the preferred strategies.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] In surgical cases, suboccipital and far lateral approaches are recommended for aneurysm clipping or trapping[1, 3]. Anterior cervical corpectomy is not encouraged. Endovascular treatment may be appropriate in surgically challenging cases; however, it may also be of low applicability, due to small diameter of root vessels and aneurysmal branches. The risk of arterial occlusion secondary to surgery and endovascular treatment is real, and sometimes prompts conservative treatment.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] Due to their different mechanisms of origin, it is believed that such aneurysms may regress spontaneously, unlike congenital and/or acquired cerebral aneurysms.[1, 2]

As a general rule, patients in good clinical status may be candidates for surgical/endovascular treatment, whereas patients in worse condition should avoid interventional procedures. In the latter case, control angiograms are necessary to assess progression.[1, 6, 7, 8]

Our patient had an isolated cervical ASA aneurysm. This is only the seventh report of this finding in the literature[6, 7, 8] [Table 1]. Although our service presented with all necessary structural resources, we chose conservative treatment because of the small size of the aneurysm and even smaller diameter of the root vessel, precluding endovascular treatment. Surgical intervention was not advocated due to limited experience and potential for harmful events, including risk of arterial occlusion and tetraplegia. Besides, there is still no literature consensus for the ideal management of such rare cases. Follow-up revealed a benign course, with spontaneous resolution of the aneurysm.

However, one must remember that following a ruptured aneurysm with serial angiograms does not represent general standard of care. The fact that a favorable outcome was achieved illustrates how unusual and interesting this case was, but does not mean that this is the proper way to manage all similar cases.

Finally, individual evaluation of each case and its particularities is essential for definition of the optimal treatment strategy, as the cases published thus far do not provide enough evidence to support one modality over another.[6, 7, 8] We highlight the need to consider these aneurysms in the differential diagnosis of SAH, especially when occurring in the posterior fossa and when angiography findings are inconclusive.


Available FREE in open access from:

1. Alnaami I,Lam FC,Steel G,Dicken B,O’Kelly CJ,Aronyk K,et al. Arteriovenous fistula and pseudoaneurysm of the anterior spinal artery caused by an epidural needle in a 5-year-old patientJ Neurosurg PediatrYear: 201311340523311385
2. Karakama J,Nakagawa K,Maehara T,Ohno K. Subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by a ruptured anterior spinal artery aneurysmNeurol Med Chir (Tokyo)Year: 2010501015921123989
3. Kawamura S,Yoshida T,Nonoyama Y,Yamada M,Suzuki A,Yasui N. Ruptured anterior spinal artery aneurysm: A case reportSurg NeurolYear: 1999516081210369227
4. Moore DW,Hunt WE,Zimmerman JE. Ruptured anterior spinal artery aneurysm: Repair via a posterior approachNeurosurgeryYear: 198210626307099415
5. Onda K,Yoshida Y,Arai H,Terada T. Complex arteriovenous fistulas at C1 causing hematomyelia through aneurysmal rupture of a feeder from the anterior spinal arteryActa Neurochir (Wien)Year: 2012154471522113555
6. Pollock JM,Powers AK,Stevens EA,Sanghvi AN,Wilson JA,Morris PP. Ruptured anterior spinal artery aneurysm: A case reportJ NeuroimagingYear: 200919277918681926
7. Yang TK. A ruptured aneurysm in the branch of the anterior spinal arteryJ Cerebrovasc Endovasc NeurosurgYear: 20131526923593602
8. Yonas H,Patre S,White RJ. Anterior spinal artery aneurysm. Case reportJ NeurosurgYear: 19805357037420184


[Figure ID: F1]
Figure 1 

Skull CT revealing SAH in basal cisterns, hydrocephalus and hemoventricle in posterior fossa; brain MR disclosing laminar hemorrhage in T1 sagittal and axial images, just ahead of cervicomedullary junction; cerebral angiogram: In A, anteroposterior view of posterior circulation with no abnormalities. In B, lateral view. In C, a small aneurysm in ASA is noted, which is better exposed in D

[Figure ID: F2]
Figure 2 

An angiotomography of intracranial vessels, which could not identify the ASA aneurysm

[Figure ID: F3]
Figure 3 

Amplified image of ASA aneurysm at diagnosis, with 2 mm of diameter. At right, control angiogram 3 months after bleeding, revealing normal posterior circulation

[TableWrap ID: T1] Table 1 

Characterization of cervical ASA aneurysms associated with SAH in literature

Article Categories:
  • Case Report

Keywords: Diagnosis, intracranial aneurysm, treatment .

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