BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The eventual goal of preventive treatment of unruptured intracranial aneurysms is to increase the number of life years with high life satisfaction. Insight in the time with reduced functioning, working capacity, and life satisfaction after aneurysm treatment is pivotal to balance the pros and cons of preventive aneurysm occlusion.
METHODS: We sent a questionnaire on time-to-recovery to preintervention functioning and return-to-work and life satisfaction to patients treated for an unruptured aneurysm between 2000 and 2013. Changes in life satisfaction before treatment, during recovery, and at follow-up were assessed with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests.
RESULTS: The questionnaire was sent to 159 patients of whom 110 (69%) responded. The mean follow-up time after aneurysm treatment was 6 years (SD 4). Fifty-four patients had endovascular and 56 had microsurgical occlusion. Complete recovery to preintervention functioning was reported by 81% (95% confidence interval [CI], 74-88) of patients, with a median time-to-recovery of 3 months (range 0-48). Complete work recovery was reported by 78% (95% CI, 66-87) of patients. The proportion of patients with high life satisfaction reduced from 76% (95% CI, 67-84) before treatment to 52% (95% CI, 43-61) during the period of recovery (P<0.01) and restored largely at long-term follow-up (67% [95% CI, 59-76], P=0.08).
CONCLUSION: Life satisfaction is significantly reduced during the period of recovery after treatment of unruptured aneurysms. In the long-term, ≈1 out of 5 patients reports incomplete recovery. These treatment effects should be kept in mind when considering preventive aneurysm treatment. Prospective studies are needed to better compare these losses in patients treated for unruptured aneurysms with those who had subarachnoid hemorrhage.