The modality of treatment of third nerve palsy (TNP) associated with intracranial aneurysms remains controversial. While treatment varies with the location of the aneurysm, microsurgical clipping of PComm aneurysms has generally been the traditional choice, with endovascular coiling emerging as a reasonable alternative.
Patients with TNP due to an intracranial aneurysm who subsequently underwent treatment at a mid-sized Canadian neurosurgical center over a 15-year period (2003–2018) were examined.
A total of 616 intracranial aneurysms in 538 patients were treated; the majority underwent endovascular coiling with only 24 patients treated with surgical clipping. Only 37 patients (6.9%) presented with either a partial or complete TNP and underwent endovascular embolization; of these, 17 presented with a SAH secondary to intracranial aneurysm rupture. Aneurysms associated with TNP included PComm (64.9%), terminal ICA (29.7%), proximal MCA (2.7%), and basilar tip (2.7%) aneurysms. In general, smaller aneurysms and earlier treatment were provided for patients for ruptured aneurysms with a shorter mean interval to TNP recovery. In the endovascularly treated cohort initially presenting with TNP, seven presented with a complete TNP and the remaining were partial TNPs. TNP resolved completely in 20 patients (55.1%) and partially in 10 patients (27.0%). Neither time to coiling nor SAH at presentation were significantly associated with the recovery status of TNP.
Endovascular coil embolization is a viable treatment modality for patients presenting with an associated cranial nerve palsy.