A brain aneurysm is a bulge in the brain’s blood vessel. It looks like a berry hanging on the stem. It ruptures or leaks which cause hemorrhagic stroke. This is known as subarachnoid hemorrhage in which a ruptured brain aneurysm can occur in space between thin tissues which cover the brain.
As this condition could rapidly become life-threatening, you need immediate medical treatment for a brain aneurysm. However, in some cases, brain aneurysms do not cause any symptoms which may be detected while doing tests for other conditions.
Before going through the diagnosis and various aneurysm treatment, let us first understand the causes and symptoms of a brain aneurysm.
- Brain aneurysms may develop as a result of the thinning of artery walls.
- Aneurysms may form branches or forks in the arteries as those vessel sections are often weaker.
- Although they appear in any location in the brain, aneurysms are the most commonly found in arteries of the brain’s base.
Risk factors:- Adults are more prone than children and women are more affected than men. Other factors are smoking, high blood pressure, drug abuse especially cocaine, head injury, heavy alcohol consumption, certain blood infection, and lower estrogen level after menopause.
Risk Factors Present at Birth:-
- Inherited connective tissue disorders
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Abnormal narrow aorta
- Cerebral arteriovenous malformation
- Family history of brain aneurysms
Signs and symptoms
Unruptured aneurysms – Produces no symptoms if small in size but large aneurysms may press the brain tissues and nerves.
- A drooping eyelid
- Pain behind and above an eye
- Paralysis, numbness or weakness of one of the face’s side
- Change in the vision or the double vision
- A dilated pupil
- A drooping eyelid
- Extremely severe, sudden headache
- Double or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck
- Loss of consciousness
Leaking aneurysm: Aneurysm may leak a slight amount of blood causing sudden death or extremely severe headache.
Tests & diagnosis:
- Cerebrospinal fluid test: If there is a subarachnoid hemorrhage, red blood cells would be found in the cerebrospinal fluid. The specialist would test the cerebrospinal fluid. The procedure is called a spinal tap or lumbar puncture which draws this cerebrospinal fluid from the back with a needle.
- Computerized tomography scan: A CT scan is generally used to determine whether there is bleeding in the brain.
- CT angiography: With the CT scan test, there is a variation in which one will receive an injection that contains dye because of which one can observe the blood flow in the brain and also indicate the site of the ruptured aneurysm.
- Cerebral angiogram: The specialist can insert a catheter into a large artery and also thread it past the heart to arteries in the brain. A special dye is injected into the catheter which travels to the arteries throughout the brain.
- Magnetic resonance imaging: MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create detailed images of the brain.
- MRI angiography: This type can assess the arteries in detail; detect the site of the ruptured aneurysm.
- Surgical clipping: This is used to close off the aneurysm. The surgeon can remove a section of the skull to access an aneurysm and also locate the blood vessel which feeds an aneurysm. Next, they can place a small metal clip on the neck of an aneurysm to stop the blood flow to it.
- Endovascular coiling: The surgeons can insert a catheter into an artery and thread it through the body to the aneurysm. They then use a guide wire which pushes into the aneurysm. The wire can coil up inside an aneurysm which disrupts the flow of blood and also causes blood to clot. This can seal off an aneurysm from an artery.
- Calcium channel blockers: They prevent the calcium from entering the cells of the walls of the blood vessel. These medications can lessen the irregular narrowing of the blood vessels which can be a complication of a ruptured aneurysm.
- Interventions: These are used to prevent the stroke from inadequate blood flow. Intravenous injections of a vasopressor that elevates the blood pressure to overcome narrowed blood vessels’ resistance. Angioplasty is another intervention used in preventing stroke.
- Anti-seizure medications: These medications can be used to treat the seizures related to a ruptured aneurysm.
- Ventricular or lumbar draining catheters and shunt surgery: It can lessen the pressure on the brain from the excess CSF (hydrocephalus) related to the ruptured aneurysm.
- Rehabilitative therapy: Damage to the brain from subarachnoid hemorrhage can result in the requirement for speech, physical and occupational therapy in relearning skills.
- Pain relievers: – acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Complication: When a brain aneurysm ruptures, the bleeding usually lasts for a few seconds and causes direct damage to surrounding cells, and leads to increase pressure inside the skull. Furthermore, it disrupts the blood and oxygen supply to the brain which leads to death and loss of consciousness.
Seek aneurysm treatment near you
In case you are diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, schedule an appointment with Peak Heart & Vascular for a consultation immediately. Our team of specialists can offer a personalized approach to figure out the right treatment for aneurysm that works for you.