Cerebral Aneurysm

A cerebral aneurysm is the bulging or ballooning out of part of the wall of a vein or artery in the brain. Cerebral aneurysms can occur at any age. They are more common in adults than in children. They are slightly more common in women than in men.

Rupture of a cerebral aneurysm results in bleeding in your brain, causing a stroke. Blood can leak into the area around your brain and develop into a blood clot within your skull. More problems can occur as a result of the aneurysm breaking, such as:

  • Rebleeding.

  • An increase in normal brain fluid in the chambers inside your brain (hydrocephalus).

  • A decrease in the size of blood vessels in your brain, which starves your brain of nutrients and oxygen (vasospasm).

  • ExitCare Image Pressure on your brain from bleeding.

CAUSES

Common causes include:

  • Defects present at birth (c ongenital).

  • High blood pressure.

  • The buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis).

  • Blood vessels that develop abnormally.

  • Diseases that weaken and damage the walls of your blood vessels.

Uncommon causes include:

  • Head trauma.

  • Infection.

  • Tumors.

  • Use of "recreational drugs" (mostly cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines).

SYMPTOMS

The signs and symptoms of an unruptured cerebral aneurysm will partly depend on its size and rate of growth.

A small, unchanging aneurysm will generally produce no symptoms. A larger aneurysm that is steadily growing may produce the following symptoms:

  • Headache.

  • Neck stiffness or pain.

  • Loss of feeling in your face.

  • Problems with your vision.

If an aneurysm bursts, it can be life-threatening. Symptoms may include:

  • A sudden and unusually severe headache.

  • Neck stiffness or pain.

  • Confusion or drowsiness.

  • Problems speaking.

  • Weakness in an arm or leg.

  • Nausea.

  • Vision impairment.

  • Vomiting.

  • Loss of consciousness.

TREATMENT

Emergency treatment for a ruptured cerebral aneurysm generally includes restoring breathing and reducing pressure inside the head. Immediate emergency surgery may be needed to help prevent damage caused by hydrocephalus and to reduce the risk of rebleeding.

When aneurysms are discovered before rupture occurs, procedures to inject tiny coils of wire or to deploy a balloon may be performed on those who cannot have surgery due to the risk involved. During these procedures, a catheter is inserted through an artery to travel up to the brain. Once the catheter reaches the aneurysm, tiny balloons or coils are used to block blood flow through the aneurysm. Other treatments may include:

  • Bed rest.

  • Drug therapy.

  • Therapy with IV fluids to preserve circulation.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

You have an aneurysm and have a severe headache or any type of new neurological symptoms such as weakness, inability to talk, or visual loss.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.  

  • Will watch your condition.  

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.