BACKGROUND: Embolization with coils is increasingly used for the treatment of intracranial aneurysms. To assess the percentage of complications, the percentage of aneurysm occlusion, and the short-term outcome, we performed a systematic review of studies on embolization with controlled detachable or pushable coils. SUMMARY OF REVIEW: To find studies on embolization with coils, we performed a MEDLINE search from January 1990 to March 1997, checked all reference lists of the studies found, performed a Science Citation Index search on Guglielmi, and hand searched recent volumes of 25 journals. Two authors independently extracted data by means of a standardized data extraction form from 48 eligible studies totalling 1383 patients. Permanent complications of embolization with controlled detachable coils occurred in 46 of 1256 patients (3.7%; 95% CI, 2.7% to 4.9%); 400 of 744 aneurysms (54%; 95% CI, 50% to 57%) were completely occluded. By means of weighted linear regression, no relation between baseline characteristics and outcome measurements was found. The results in the prespecified subgroups of patients with a ruptured aneurysm, an unruptured aneurysm, or a basilar bifurcation aneurysm were essentially the same as the overall results. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term results indicate that embolization with coils is a reasonably safe treatment for patients with an unruptured aneurysm and for patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The effectiveness in terms of complete occlusion of the aneurysm is moderate. Randomized trials are warranted to compare surgical clipping with embolization with coils.
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