Cerebral Aneurysm

What is a Cerebral Aneurysm?

A cerebral (brain) aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of an artery in the brain that causes an outward bulging or “ballooning.” Brain aneurysms affect approximately 1 out of every 15 people in the United States. There are nearly 500,000 deaths worldwide each year caused by brain aneurysms.

Three Types of Cerebral Aneurysms

  • Saccular: This is the most common type of aneurysm. It is shaped like a berry and accounts for 80-90% of all brain aneurysms. This type is more likely to rupture if not treated.
  • Fusiform: This type of aneurysm is less common and seldom ruptures.
  • Mycotic: This type is rare and result from infection. The infection weakens and damages the blood vessel, which increases the risk of rupturing.

Causes/Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure/Hypertension
  • Family history of aneurysms
  • Age- most prevalent in people ages 50 to 60
  • Gender- brain aneurysms are more commonly found in females than in males (3:2)
  • Traumatic head injury
  • Infection
  • Drug use- particularly cocaine

Symptoms of Cerebral Aneurysms

  • Pain above and behind the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Weakness and/or numbness
  • Nausea and vomiting

If an aneurysm ruptures, blood may leak into the subarachnoid space around the brain. This is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).  A ruptured aneurysm may quickly become life-threatening. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please seek medical attention immediately.

Diagnosis of Cerebral Aneurysms

There are several methods that doctors use to detect aneurysms. They include:

  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Computed Tomographic Angiography (CTA)
  • Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan)
  • Doppler Ultrasound
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)

Surgical Treatment Options for Cerebral Aneurysms

If you have a brain aneurysm that needs to be surgically treated, Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic can help. They offer the two most commonly used surgical treatments for cerebral aneurysms.

  • Surgical Clipping- An incision is made on the skin on the top of the head. The surgeon will then place a small metallic clip, or multiple clips, along the aneurysm. This prevents blood from entering the aneurysm sac in order to prevent future bleeding.
  • Endovascular Coiling- This surgery uses the bloodstream to diagnose and treat brain aneurysms. The surgeon seals off the aneurysm and stops further bleeding from entering and increasing the risk of rupturing.