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Brain Aneurysms


What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain (cerebral) aneurysm is an abnormal outward bulging or ballooning on the weak area/spot in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

Location of aneurysm in brain:

Network of blood vessels at the base of the brain called the circle of Willis.

Risk factors of Brain aneurysm

The following risk factors may increase either a person’s risk for an aneurysm or its rupture:

  • Family history
  • Previous aneurysm
  • Women
  • African Americans ethnicity
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

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Causes of Brain aneurysm

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Brain trauma
  • Abnormal blood flow at the meeting point of arteries
  • Infections of the artery wall
  • Tumors
  • Drug abuse, especially cocaine

Symptoms of Brain aneurysm

In most of the cases, a brain aneurysm causes no symptoms and goes unnoticed. It may get ruptured (causing a subarachnoid haemorrhage), releasing blood into the skull and causing a stroke, brain damage or even death.

Symptoms of ruptured or unruptured brain aneurysm typically depend upon the location and severity of aneurysm.

Symptoms of ruptured aneurysm

  • Severe headache
  • Neck stiffness or pain
  • Pain above or behind the eye
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision or double vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Loss of sensation
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Symptoms of unruptured aneurysm

Large unruptured aneurysms may cause the following symptoms by exerting pressure on the adjacent brain or nerves:

  • Sudden onset needing emergency treatment
  • Peripheral vision deficits
  • Severe headache
  • Neck pain
  • Thinking or processing problems
  • Speech changes or complications
  • Perceptual problems
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Decreased concentration
  • Short-term memory difficulty
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis of brain aneurysm

Symptoms of brain aneurysms also show in other medical conditions, so following diagnostic neuroradiology should be performed to identify both ruptured and unruptured brain aneurysms:

  • CT scan of head
  • Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Lumbar puncture (LP, or spinal tap)
  • Angiography
  • Cerebral angiogram

Treatment of Brain aneurysm

The main goal of treatment for brain aneurysm after it gets ruptured is to stop the bleeding and prevent potential permanent damage to the brain and reduce the risk of recurrence. Line of treatment depends upon the age and overall health of the patient, size of the aneurysm and presence of any additional risk factors. Small sized aneurysm are observed as their chances of rupture are low whereas large sized or symptomatic aneurysms need surgery.

The following treatment can be used for both ruptured and unruptured brain aneurysms:

  • Embolization
  • Surgical clipping
  • Endovascular therapy: coiling

Authored by Dr. Shyam Sundar K

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Dr. Shyam Sundar K

Dr. Shyam Sundar K is an eminent name in the field of neurology. He is one of the best neurosurgeon in Chennai, Tamil Nadu

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