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With a vast network of doctors who specialize in vascular neurosurgery and aneurysms, you are in good hands at Banner Brain & Spine. Our team of experts provides comprehensive care for aneurysms including medical, surgical and endovascular options.

What Is an Aneurysm?

A cerebral (brain) aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain. It occurs when there is a weak spot in the blood vessel wall that bulges outward, like a balloon that is filling with water. Cerebral aneurysms can range in size from very small to very large, and they can occur anywhere in the brain. If an aneurysm ruptures (bursts), it can cause bleeding into the brain (hemorrhage), which can be life-threatening. The most common symptoms of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm are severe headache, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness and loss of consciousness. 

What’s the Difference Between an Aneurysm and a Stroke?

While both have similar effects on the body and brain, there is a difference between an aneurysm and a stroke. An aneurysm is the weakening of an artery wall that can rupture causing a bleed while a hemorrhagic stroke refers to a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Some may use these terms interchangeably but it’s important to note the difference between an aneurysm and a stroke. 

What are Aneurysm Risk Factors?

Risk factors for developing an aneurysm can depend on your genetics as well as habits, gender and age.

Hereditary risk factors for an aneurysm to be aware of:

  • History of aneurysms in your child, sibling or parent
  • Tissue disorders that weaken artery walls
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)

Habits that may be risk factors for aneurysms include:

  • Untreated high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Poor diet

Other factors to consider include:

  • Age - being over the age of 40
  • Gender - women are more likely to develop aneurysms than men
  • Head trauma

Some research connects brain aneurysm and dementia. Lower your risk of an aneurysm by eating healthy, controlling blood pressure, exercising regularly and quitting smoking.

Types of Aneurysms and Where They Can Occur

While aneurysms can occur in different parts of the body, they are most likely to be found in the brain, aorta, behind the knee or in the spleen/intestines. These types of aneurysms can be classified as ruptured and unruptured. If a brain aneurysm ruptures, this may result in a stroke, brain damage or death, so it’s important to know the signs of symptoms of an aneurysm.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of an Aneurysm?

Depending on the type of aneurysm you have (ruptured or unruptured), some signs and symptoms may vary.

Signs of a ruptured aneurysm may include:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Neck stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Speech difficulties
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

If you are experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Aneurysm Diagnosis & Treatments

If you are experiencing severe headaches as well as other symptoms, we know you want answers and relief as quickly as possible. Banner Brain & Spine uses the latest imaging and diagnostic technology to diagnose aneurysms, such as:

After your doctor has diagnosed you, your doctor may discuss aneurysm treatment options such as:

Aneurysm clipping: This procedure involves making an incision in the scalp and opening the skull to access the aneurysm. The blood flow to the aneurysm is then interrupted by placing a clip at the base of the aneurysm. The clip is a small metal device that looks like a clothespin and is designed to stop the blood flow to the aneurysm, which helps prevent it from rupturing (bursting). Aneurysm clipping is usually performed under general anesthesia and can take several hours to complete, depending on the location and size of the aneurysm. It is a relatively high-risk procedure, and there are potential complications that can occur, such as infection, bleeding and stroke.

Endovascular aneurysm coiling: During endovascular coiling, a small wire mesh coil is inserted into the blood vessel using a catheter (a thin, flexible tube). The coil is guided to the aneurysm and then released, where it expands and fills the aneurysm, blocking blood flow to the aneurysm and preventing it from rupturing.

Endovascular coiling is a minimally invasive procedure that is typically performed using x-ray guidance, and it is usually done in a hospital or outpatient setting. The procedure is usually performed under conscious sedation (a light sleep) and the patient is awake but relaxed during the procedure.

Endovascular coiling is a safe and effective treatment option for many patients with aneurysms, and it is often preferred over traditional surgery because it is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time. However, like any medical procedure, it carries a risk of complications, and the decision to undergo endovascular coiling should be made after careful consideration and consultation with a qualified health care provider. 

Flow diverters: Mostly used to treat larger aneurysms in certain locations, flow diverters are used to reduce blood flow to the aneurysm.

Talk to your neurosurgeon about the best aneurysm treatment options for you.

The team of experts at Banner Brain & Spine is here to help navigate life after an aneurysm diagnosis or rupture. Contact us today with any questions.