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Original research
Coil migration during or after endovascular coiling of cerebral aneurysms
  1. Mohamad Abdalkader, Interventional Neuroradiologist1,
  2. Michel Piotin2,
  3. Michael Chen3,
  4. Santiago Ortega-Gutierrez4,
  5. Edgar Samaniego4,
  6. Alain Weill5,
  7. Alexander M Norbash6,
  8. Thanh N Nguyen7
  1. 1 Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Interventional Neuroradiology, Fondation Rothschild Hospital, Paris, France
  3. 3 Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  4. 4 Neurology, Radiology and Neurosurgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  5. 5 Radiology, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  6. 6 Radiology, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
  7. 7 Neurology, Radiology and Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mohamad Abdalkader, Department of Radiology, Boston Medical Center, Boston University-School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA; mohamad.abdalkader{at}


Background Coil migration is a complication of endovascular coiling of cerebral aneurysms that has not been well studied.

Objective To report the frequency, risk factors, management strategies, and outcomes of coil migration.

Methods This was a retrospective analysis of the clinical and radiological data of patients who underwent cerebral aneurysm coiling complicated by coil migration at five neuroendovascular centers in the United States, Canada, and France between 2008 and 2018.

Results Eighteen cases of coil migration met our study criteria with an occurrence of 0.3% (18/6071 cases) (procedural migration: 55%, delayed migration: 45%). The mean aneurysm maximal diameter, neck, and height to neck ratio in migration cases were 3.4±1.4 mm (range 2–7.6 mm), 2.4±0.9 mm (range 1.2–4.4 mm), and 1.4±0.4 (range 1–2.15), respectively. The 2 mm diameter coil was the most common (39%, range 1–2.5 mm) migrated coil. The length of the migrated coil was ≤4 cm in 95% of cases.

Patients managed conservatively (5/18, 28%) did well. Thromboembolic and/or hemorrhagic complications were noted in 6/10 migration patients treated by endovascular modalities and in all migration patients who underwent surgical treatment (4/4). Three deaths occurred (3/18, 17%) related to high Hunt and Hess grade subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Conclusion Coil migration is an uncommon but important complication of cerebral aneurysm coiling. Small aneurysms, aspect ratio <1.6, and small coils are significant risk factors. Endovascular treatment, such as using a stent retriever, can be considered for procedural, proximal migration, and/or in cases of vessel occlusion. Delayed or distal migration should be managed conservatively.

  • cerebral aneurysms
  • coil migration
  • endovascular coiling

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  • Contributors All authors provided suggestions and feedback on the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.