Introduction: There is increasing acknowledgement that surgical care is important in global health initiatives. In particular, neurosurgical care is as limited as 1 per 10 million people in parts of the world. We performed a systematic literature review to examine the worldwide incidence of central nervous system vascular lesions and a meta-analysis of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) to define the disease burden and inform neurosurgical global health efforts. Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines to estimate the global epidemiology of central nervous system vascular lesions, including unruptured and ruptured aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, cavernous malformations, dural arteriovenous fistulas, developmental venous anomalies, and vein of Galen malformations. Results were organized by World Health Organization regions. After literature review, because of a lack of data from particular World Health Organization regions, we determined we could only provide an estimate of aSAH. Using data from studies with aSAH and 12 high-quality stroke studies from regions lacking data, we meta-analyzed the yearly crude incidence of aSAH per 100,000 persons. Estimates were generated via random-effects models. Results: From an initial yield of 1492 studies, 46 manuscripts on aSAH incidence were included. The final meta-analysis included 58 studies from 31 different countries. We estimated the global crude incidence for aSAH to be 6.67 per 100,000 persons with a wide variation across WHO regions from 0.71 to 12.38 per 100,000 persons. Conclusions: Worldwide, almost 500,000 individuals will suffer from aSAH each year, with almost two-thirds in low- and middle-income countries.
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