Brain Aneurysm Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
25 October 2011 28,448 views One Comment
stroke. When a brain aneurysm ruptures, the result is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Depending on the severity of the hemorrhage, brain damage or death may result. The most common location for brain aneurysms is in the network of blood vessels at the base of the brain called the circle of Willis. What causes a brain aneurysm? A person may inherit the tendency to form aneurysms, or aneurysms may develop because of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and aging. Some risk factors that can lead to brain aneurysms can be controlled, and others can't. The following risk factors may increase your risk of developing an aneurysm or, if you already have an aneurysm, may increase your risk of it rupturing:
- Family history. People who have a family history of brain aneurysms are more likely to have an aneurysm than those who don't.
- Previous aneurysm. People who have had a brain aneurysm are more likely to have another.
- Gender. Women are more likely to develop a brain aneurysm or to suffer a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- Race. African Americans are more likely than whites to have a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- Hypertension. The risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage is greater in people with a history of high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Smoking. In addition to being a cause of hypertension, the use of cigarettes may greatly increase the chances of a brain aneurysm rupturing.
- A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
- Neck pain.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Fainting or loss of consciousness.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan can help identify bleeding in the brain. Sometimes a lumbar puncture may be used if your doctor suspects that you have a ruptured cerebral aneurysm with a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) scan. CTA is a more precise method of evaluating blood vessels than a standard CT scan. CTA uses a combination of CT scanning, special computer techniques, and contrast material (dye) injected into the blood to produce images of blood vessels.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Similar to a CTA, MRA uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body. As with CTA and cerebral angiography, a dye is often used during MRA to make blood vessels show up more clearly.
- Cerebral angiogram. During this X-ray test, a catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in the groin or arm and moved up through the vessel into the brain. A dye is then injected into the cerebral artery. As with the above tests, the dye allows any problems in the artery, including aneurysms, to be seen on the X-ray. Although this test is more invasive and carries more risk than the above tests, it is the best way to locate small (less than 5 mm) brain aneurysms.
- Coil embolization. During this procedure, a small tube is inserted into the affected artery and positioned near the aneurysm. Tiny metal coils are then moved through the tube into the aneurysm, relieving pressure on the aneurysm and making it less likely to rupture. This procedure is less invasive and is believed to be safer than surgical clipping, although it may not be as effective at reducing the risk of a later rupture. It should be done in a large hospital where many such procedures are done.
- Surgical clipping. This surgery involves placing a small metal clip around the base of the aneurysm to isolate it from normal blood circulation. This decreases the pressure on the aneurysm and prevents it from rupturing. Whether this surgery can be done depends on the location of the aneurysm, its size, and your general health.