A brain aneurysm is a weak area in the wall of a blood vessel that bulges or balloons out. If the aneurysm grows to a certain size, it can burst, causing bleeding into the brain. This is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. People are not born with brain aneurysms – they usually develop at some point in life.
Factors associated with increased risk for aneurysm formation or increased risk for bleeding from an aneurysm are smoking, high blood pressure and family history of brain aneurysms.
Aneurysms usually do not cause a problem until they rupture. Aneurysm bleeding always causes sudden onset of a horrible headache. If the bleeding is severe, there may also be loss of consciousness, lethargy and/or confusion. This is very serious and must be treated right away. If not treated, the chance of death is very likely.
Types of brain aneurysms
Ruptured aneurysm: There is a hole in the aneurysm wall from the initial bleed. The goal is to fix the aneurysm so it can’t bleed again.
Unruptured aneurysm: If an aneurysm is thought to be at relatively high risk for hemorrhage in the future (aneurysms bigger than 6-7 mm in diameter, aneurysms in certain locations, aneurysms in smokers or in those with family history of aneurysms), it can be treated before it ruptures.
Types of treatment for brain aneurysms
Endovascular treatment: This minimally invasive approach is often the first option. Surgeons thread a small plastic catheter from the leg artery all the way into the arteries of the brain and into the aneurysm using the following different types of techniques.