Coil migration

Distal coil or stent migration is a rare, but potentially morbid complication of intracranial aneurysm embolization.

It is one of the most feared complications and might be related to poor functional outcomes 1) 2) 3) 4) and contributes significantly to thromboembolic events 5).

Coil embolectomy, vessel repair, and aneurysmal neck clipping are necessary for surgical treatment after such distal coil migration. However, removal of intravascular coils is not always possible due to adhesion to the arterial wall. In such a case, revascularization procedures such as superficial temporal artery-MCA bypass may even be necessary; therefore, it is important to preserve the superficial temporal artery when performing surgery 6).

At present, there is no established standard of surgical evacuation of displaced material-in particular, there is no consensus on the optimum time for such intervention.

Haley et al. reported a case of coil migration into the oropharynx five years after treatment of a left internal carotid pseudoaneurysm following abandoned transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary macroadenoma. Eight other cases were found on literature review, with coil migration occurring between 2 and 120 months often after a history of transsphenoidal surgery. The majority of these were treated with trimming in a day case setting. This report highlights the need for careful extended follow up when a pseudoaneurysm forms with a concurrent skull base deficit 7).


Delayed coil migration after endovascular treatment with detachable coils, particularly several months after treatment, is extremely rare. In this report, the authors describe a 77-year-old female in whom delayed coil migration to the anterior cerebral artery and posterior communicating artery (PCoA) developed 3 months after an uncomplicated aneurysm embolization. The patient was successfully retreated with a closed-cell stent. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) revealed high wall shear stress (WSS) and multiple vortices in the residual cavity of the initially treated aneurysm. CFD could be useful to detect and predict this complication, and a stent-assisted technique could be an important treatment option 8).

Turek et al. report their positive experiences with an ultra-early surgical evacuation of 2 migrated coils and a flow-diverter stent.

Uncontrolled coil or stent migration occurred in 3 (0.75%) of approximately 400 patients treated between 1999 and 2012 in the authors' institution.

In all 3 cases, the materials moved from their intended position to the middle cerebral artery (MCA). Surgical evacuation was started immediately (within half an hour) after a futile attempt of removing them via intraarterial route, under the same anesthesia and with no active reversal of heparinization.

No excessive bleeding was observed. Displaced coils were extracted through an incision of a branch of MCA-the anterior temporal artery, the stent was removed through a direct incision of MCA. Recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) was injected to the stem of the internal carotid artery toward the end of the procedure, with no discernible adverse effects. Two patients were discharged with no deficit (Glasgow Outcome Scale [GOS] Score 5); the other patient was conscious with mild hemiparesis (GOS Score 4) at discharge.

The experiences of these 3 cases suggest that immediate removal of a migrated stent/coil is feasible and may be effective. Indirect access to the MCA through its branch helps to shorten the time of temporary clipping of the artery to a minimum. Maintaining active heparinization and direct intraarterial injection of rtPA are helpful in promoting blood flow in the MCA 9).

Chen Z, Tang W, Feng H, Zhu G. Surgical extraction of migrated coils via proximal segment of the anterior cerebral artery: an emergency alternative. Neurol India. 2009 May-Jun;57(3):327–330.
Deshmukh VR, Klopfenstein J, Albuquerque FC, Kim LJ, Spetzler RF. Surgical management of distal coil migration and arterial perforation after attempted coil embolization of a ruptured ophthalmic artery aneurysm: technical case report. Neurosurgery. 2006 Apr;58(4 Suppl 2):ONS-E379.
Park HH, Hong CK, Suh SH, Ahn JY, Joo JY. Management of a complicated cerebral aneurysm with distal migration of a detachable coil: a case report. Korean J Cerebrovasc Surg. 2009 Sep;11(3):118–121.
4) , 6)
Wada H, Tokumitsu N, Shirai W, Sako K, Kamada K. Ruptured aneurysm with delayed distal coil migration requiring surgical treatment. Case report. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo) 2012;52(6):439–442.
Kung DK, Abel TJ, Madhavan KH, Dalyai RT, Dlouhy BJ, Liu W, et al. Treatment of endovascular coil and stent migration using the merci retriever: report of three cases. Case Rep Med. 2012;2012:242101.
Haley M, Kumaria A, Lenthall R, McConachie N, Smith S, Dow G. Coughing on the coil; a case report and literature review of eight cases of endovascularly treated ICA pseudoaneurysms with coil migration into the oropharnyx. Br J Neurosurg. 2020 Jan 29:1-3. doi: 10.1080/02688697.2020.1716944. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31994916.
Kamide T, Misaki K, Nambu I, Mohri M, Uchiyama N, Nakada M. Delayed asymptomatic coil migrations toward different arteries after aneurysmal embolization: case report. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2017 Jan 21. doi: 10.1007/s00701-017-3083-6. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28110403.
Turek G, Kochanowicz J, Lewszuk A, Lyson T, Zielinska-Turek J, Chwiesko J, Mariak Z. Early surgical removal of migrated coil/stent after failed embolization of intracranial aneurysm. J Neurosurg. 2015 Oct;123(4):841-7. doi: 10.3171/2015.1.JNS132788. Epub 2015 Jul 31. PubMed PMID: 26230470.
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