Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Intracranial Aneurysms of Neuro-Ophthalmologic Relevance

Micieli, Jonathan A. MD; Newman, Nancy J. MD; Barrow, Daniel L. MD; Biousse, Valérie MD

Section Editor(s): Biousse, Valérie MD; Galetta, Steven MD

doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000515
State-of-the-Art Review

Background: Intracranial saccular aneurysms are acquired lesions that often present with neuro-ophthalmologic symptoms and signs. Recent advances in neurosurgical techniques, endovascular treatments, and neurocritical care have improved the optimal management of symptomatic unruptured aneurysms, but whether the chosen treatment has an impact on neuro-ophthalmologic outcomes remains debated.

Evidence Acquisition: A review of the literature focused on neuro-ophthalmic manifestations and treatment of intracranial aneurysms with specific relevance to neuro-ophthalmologic outcomes was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Cavernous sinus aneurysms were not included in this review.

Results: Surgical clipping vs endovascular coiling for aneurysms causing third nerve palsies was compared in 13 retrospective studies representing 447 patients. Complete recovery was achieved in 78% of surgical patients compared with 44% of patients treated with endovascular coiling. However, the complication rate, hospital costs, and days spent in intensive care were reported as higher in surgically treated patients. Retrospective reviews of surgical clipping and endovascular coiling for all ocular motor nerve palsies (third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerves) revealed similar results of complete resolution in 76% and 49%, respectively. Improvement in visual deficits related to aneurysmal compression of the anterior visual pathways was also better among patients treated with clipping than with coiling. The time to treatment from onset of visual symptoms was a predictive factor of visual recovery in several studies. Few reports have specifically assessed the improvement of visual deficits after treatment with flow diverters.

Conclusions: Decisions regarding the choice of therapy for intracranial aneurysms causing neuro-ophthalmologic signs ideally should be made at high-volume centers with access to both surgical and endovascular treatments. The status of the patient, location of the aneurysm, and experience of the treating physicians are important factors to consider. Although a higher rate of visual recovery was reported with neurosurgical clipping, this must be weighed against the potentially longer intensive care stays and increased early morbidity.

Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science (JAM), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Departments of Ophthalmology and Neurology (NJN, VB) and Neurological Surgery (DB, NJN), Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.

Address correspondence to Valérie Biousse, MD, Neuro-ophthalmology Unit, Emory Eye Center, The Emory Clinic, 1365-B Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322; Email:

Supported in part by an unrestricted departmental grant (Department of Ophthalmology) from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., New York, and by NIH/NEI core grant P30-EY06360 (Department of Ophthalmology).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society