Facts | Symptoms | Causes | Prevention | Treatment
aneurysm forms when the wall of a blood vessel dilates and causes an artery
to expand abnormally. A brain aneurysm forms a weak bulge in an artery
of the brain that resembles a small balloon. These aneurysms can occur
in people of any age. They are generally more common in females rather
than males and adults rather than children. A brain (or cerebral) aneurysm
can be detected with imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan.
bulge in the artery may burst much like a blow out on a tire, which then
causes hemorrhaging in the brain. When this occurs, immediate medical
attention should be sought. Early detection and prevention are key to
effectively treating and recovering from aneurysms. Recovery from aneurysm
treatment depends largely upon whether or not the aneurysm was ruptured.
In those patients in whom an aneurysm is unruptured, a recovery with little
or no neurological loss is much more likely than if the aneurysm had ruptured.
small aneurysm may produce no symptoms at all, while a larger one is more
likely to display severe symptoms.
that is usually sudden in onset
of feeling in the face
causes of aneurysm include hypertension (high blood pressure), trauma,
disease, injury, heredity and infection. Studies have shown that smoking
is significantly associated with aneurysm rupture.
here to learn about specific ways to prevent aneurysms.
& coiling | Microvascular clipping | Occlusion
Intensive care is required to successfully treat an aneurysm.
Each case is unique, and considerations for treating an unruptured aneurysm
include the type, size and location of the aneurysm, risk of rupture,
patient’s age, health, personal and family medical history and
risk of treatment.
Not all aneurysms burst. Some patients with very small
aneurysms may simply be monitored to detect any growth or development
of symptoms. Coexisting medical problems and risk factors must be treated
as well. Most aneurysms can be treated with either microsurgery or endovascular
Endovascular embolization & microcoil
Surgery for aneurysm typically carries some risk to the
patient such as damage to other blood vessels, which can lead to brain
injury resulting in weakness, memory loss or personality changes.
If surgery is too risky, the aneurysm may be treated from
the inside using a catheter. With this technique the endovascular surgeon
passes a catheter up to the brain and into the aneurysm from the artery
at the groin. Through this catheter are then passed a series of platinum
coils that are small and soft and serve to fill the aneurysm. Once the
aneurysm is packed with coils, the aneurysm clots off and the risk for
future bleeding is low. The one major drawback to this treatment technique
is that the coils can compact or the aneurysm can regrow. Therefore,
patients treated with coiling need to have follow up angiography for
one to two years following the initial treatment.
Microvascular clipping involves cutting off the circulation
to the aneurysm. Under anesthesia, a section of the skull is removed
and the aneurysm is located. The neurosurgeon will use a microscope to
isolate the blood vessel that feeds the aneurysm and place a small, metal,
clothespin-like clip across the neck of the aneurysm to stop its blood
supply. The clip remains in the patient and prevents the risk of future
Clipping has been shown to be highly effective in treating
aneurysms, depending on its location, shape and size. Generally, aneurysms
that are completely clipped surgically do not return.
A procedure related to clipping is an occlusion, in which
the surgeon shuts down the blood flow in the artery that supplies the
aneurysm. This procedure is done when surgery or coiling are not viable
options. An occlusion is sometimes accompanied by a bypass, in which
blood flow is redirected away from the section of the damaged artery
by surgically grafting a blood vessel to it.
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