Brain Aneurysms
 

Brain Aneurysms

What is an aneurysm?
An aneurysm is an abnormal weak spot in the blood vessel wall.  It appears as a ballooned area on the vessel similar to a weak spot on an inner tube.  Brain aneurysms most commonly form in the arteries of the brain from wear and tear and less commonly from injury or infection.

 

What is the risk that my brain aneurysm will rupture?
In patients with brain aneurysms, approximately 2-3% of the aneurysms rupture each year. There are certain risk factors that have been found to affect the risk and rate of ruptured aneurysms. 

  • Location, size, and appearance of the aneurysm

  • Smoking

  • Hypertension

  • Family history of ruptured aneurysm

  • Age and health

 

What are the signs and symptoms of an unruptured brain aneurysm?
It is rare to experience signs and symptoms of an unruptured aneurysm. 

 

What are the signs and symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm?
People who have suffered from a brain aneurysm rupture often describe a sudden onset of the worst headache of their life.  This can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.  The neck can be stiff.  Vision may become blurred or double vision may occur.  They may lose consciousness.

 

What would happen if my brain aneurysm does rupture?
When a brain aneurysm ruptures, it causes bleeding around the brain.  This bleeding is fatal in up to 50% of cases.  Of those who survive, many will be significantly disabled. 

 

How is my brain aneurysm treated?
Currently there are two different types of procedures to treat brain aneurysms.  In both, the goal is to safely seal off the aneurysm from the arterial circulation.

 

Surgical clipping: 
This is an open surgery requiring a craniotomy to reach the aneurysm to place a clip at the aneurysm base.  The clip cuts off blood supply into the aneurysm.

 

Endovascular Embolization: 

This minimally invasive option for treatment of brain aneurysms has been available since the early 1990’s. In this procedure, an embolic material, usually platinum coils, are deposited into the aneurysm via a microcatheter to block blood flow into the aneurysm.