A brain aneurysm is a protruding, weak part in the wall of vain that carries blood to the brain. Generally, it doesn’t display any symptoms. In some cases, the brain aneurysm breaks open, releasing blood into the skull leading to a stroke.
When a brain aneurysm bursts, it is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Based on the seriousness of the hemorrhage, brain damage or death may occur.
The most common area for brain aneurysms is in the network of blood arteries at the base of the brain termed as the circle of Willis.
Causes of a Brain Aneurysm
Inheritance may be the reason to form aneurysms, or aneurysms may occur because of stiffness of the arteries and aging. Some risk factors that can result in brain aneurysms can be monitored, and some can't. The following risk factors may catapult your risk of developing an aneurysm or, if you are already suffering from an aneurysm, may increase your risk of it being ruptured:
- Ancestral History: People having family background of brain aneurysms are more likely to develop an aneurysm as those who don't.
- Previous Aneurysm. About 20% of people having this disease have more than one.
- Gender: Women are two times more prone to develop a brain aneurysm or face a subarachnoid hemorrhage compare to men.
- Race: African Americans are double at risk of having subarachnoid hemorrhages than whites.
- Hypertension: The risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage is more in people having a history of high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Smoking: Use of cigarettes catapults the risk of getting a brain aneurysm rupturing.
Symptoms of Brain Aneurysm
Most brain aneurysms manifest no signal and may only be discovered during tests for some other, generally unrelated, condition. In other cases, an unruptured aneurysm will create problems by pressing on areas in the brain. Under these circumstances, the person may suffer from acute headaches, change in speech, blurred vision, and neck pain, based on the areas of the brain that are affected and the seriousness of the aneurysm.
Symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm generally unearths suddenly. They may include:
- All of a sudden, severe headache.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Neck pain.
- Fainting or loss of consciousness.
Diagnosis of a Brain Aneurysm
As unruptured brain aneurysms generally did not cause any symptoms, many are unearthed in people getting treatment for a different ailment.
You may have to undergo following tests to detect a brain aneurysm:
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan can identify if there is any bleeding in the brain.
- Computed Tomography Angiogram (CTA) Scan: CTA is a more brief method of scanning blood vessels than a CT scan. CTA uses a blend of CT scanning, special computer techniques, and contrast element (dye) injected into the blood to create images of blood vessels.
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA): Like a CTA, MRI uses a magnetic field and radio wave energy to create pictures of blood vessels within the body. In this process a dye is often used to identify blood vessels more clearly.
- Cerebral Angiogram. In this X-ray test, a hollow tube is inserted through a blood vessel in the arm or groin and pushed through the vessel into the brain. A dye is then injected into the cerebral vain. The dye enables any problems in the artery, including aneurysms, to be visible on the X-ray. Nevertheless this test is more intrusive more risky than the above tests, it is the ultimate process to detect small (less than 5 mm) brain aneurysms.
Sometimes a lumbar puncture is also used to identify a busted cerebral aneurysm with a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Your doctor may consider various factors before coming to a decision for the best treatment for you. Factors that determine the kind of treatment you will undergo include your age, seriousness and size of the aneurysm, any additional risk factors, and your general health.
As the chance of a small (less than 10 mm) aneurysm burst is less and surgery for a brain aneurysm is risky, your health consultant may suggest you to continue to observe your condition rather than perform surgery. On the other side, if your aneurysm is huge or causing trouble or other sign, or if you already have had a previous ruptured aneurysm, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The following surgeries are done to treat both busted and unruptured brain aneurysms:
- Coil Embolization: In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the affected vain and placed near the aneurysm. Then small coils are passed through this tube into the aneurysm, relieving pressure on the aneurysm and reducing the risk of rupture. This procedure is less risky and is considered to be safer than surgical clipping nevertheless, it may not be that effective in trimming the risk of a later rupture. It must be conducted in a big hospital having a history of performing such procedures.
- Surgical Clipping: A small metal clip is placed around the base of the aneurysm to cut it off from normal blood circulation. This reduces the pressure on the aneurysm and stops it from rupturing. Whether this surgery can be done or not depends on the area of the aneurysm, its volume, and your health condition.
Aneurysms that have already bled are of very serious nature and in several cases lead to death or some kind of deformity.