A brain aneurysm is a potentially life threatening condition that involves the bulging or ballooning of a blood vessel in the brain. If this bulge ends up leaking or rupturing, it can cause a hemorrhagic stroke in the brain, which needs to be treated as soon as possible. Today, we take a closer look at why these aneurysms form and how they are diagnosed and treated.
Brain Aneurysm Causes And Symptoms
There is no known direct cause of a brain aneurysm, but there are some lifestyle and genetic risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing the condition. Some lifestyle factors include:
- Being older
- Having high blood pressure
- Being a smoker
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Certain drug use
- Head trauma or the presence of certain blood infections
Some potential genetic risk factors include having a connective tissue disorder like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, having a narrow aorta and a family history of brain aneurysms.
Symptoms of an unruptered aneurysm include having pain behind one eye, sudden vision changes, facial numbness and consistent headaches. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should head in for a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Diagnosing and Treating Brain Aneurysms
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, a specialist will conduct a few physical tests, ask about your symptoms and look for the presence of an aneurysm with an imaging test. CT scans or an MRI can help look for the presence of an aneurysm, and other tests like a cerebrospinal fluid test will help detect bleeding in the brain.
There are two main surgical options for treating a brain aneurysm – Clipping and Coiling.
Clipping – Clipping is a surgical procedure designed to close off the aneurysm. This involves removing a section of your skull, locating the blood vessel that feeds the aneurysm and then placing a tiny metal clip on the neck of the aneurysm to stop blood flow to it.
Coiling – Coiling is a less invasive procedure that involves the insertion of a hollow plastic tube called a catheter into an artery. The catheter is then maneuvered by the surgeon to the aneurysm, and a soft wire is then inserted. The wire coils up inside the aneurysm, disrupting blood flow and basically sealing off the aneurysm from the artery.
Another potential treatment that has become more popular in recent years is a flow diverter. This tubular stent-like device helps to stop blood flow in the aneurysm so that the body can help the area heal. This is more common in larger aneurysms that may not be able to be safely treated with other surgical options.
Hopefully you’ll never need to undergo surgery to address a brain aneurysm, but Dr. Chang is here for you if you do. For more information about aneurysm surgery or what to do if you’re experiencing certain symptoms that suggest a potential brain issue, reach out to his clinic today.