Brain Aneurysms

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

A cerebral or brain aneurysm may occur due to the weakening of blood vessels in the brain. When this happens, the weakened area can balloon out making the wall of the vessel very fragile and easily broken. This ballooning of the blood vessel is called an aneurysm.

Types of aneurysms include:

  • Saccular, the most common, also called "berry,” where the aneurysm bulges from one side of the artery and has a distinct neck at its base
  • Fusiform, where the aneurysm bulges in all directions and has no distinct neck

Aneurysms are also classified as either unruptured or ruptured.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Brain Aneurysms

A doctor may make this diagnosis after a hemorrhage occurs and is spotted on a CT scan, or during the doctor’s evaluation of your other symptoms.

The pattern of blood on the head CT is specific and usually necessitates additional imaging in the form of a CT angiogram, MR angiogram or cerebral angiography. 

These tests are designed to evaluate the architecture of the blood supply to the brain and to guide decision making in how to manage the vascular abnormality. 

How is a Brain Aneurysm Treated?

Treatment for aneurysm is based on many factors, including your condition as a patient and the aneurysm’s shape, size and configuration.

Your doctor may choose to treat your brain aneurysm with medical therapy, if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms, your treatment may be surgical, for example, through:

  • Endovascular coiling, treated from within the blood vessel via a small catheter placed into an artery in the groin
  • Aneurysm clipping, the formal brain surgery via an incision in the scalp and temporary removal of a small portion of the skull with placement of a clip across the aneurysm

Risk Factors for Brain Aneurysm

Risk factors for brain aneurysms include these, identified by the National Institutes of Health:
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • Congenital defects
  • Build-up of fatty plaques (atherosclerosis)

Sometimes, head trauma and infection may also be factors, although this is uncommon. For more information on cerebral aneurysms, please visit our health library.

Brain Aneurysm Specialist

Diagnosis and treatment of a brain aneurysm requires a team of specialists. It is important to contact your primary care physician or seek immediate help if you are experiencing symptoms. Typically, a multidisciplinary approach is taken when diagnosing and treating a brain aneurysm. Doctors will need to determine the size and location of the aneurysm and whether it has ruptured.

Once these assessments have been made, a team of specialists at Baptist Health will coordinate care to determine what type of treatment may be required. There are several treatment options available, including, but not limited to, endovascular and open surgeries.

Next Steps with MyChart

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