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Cerebral Aneurysm

Vascular services are often used to diagnose and repair blood vessel conditions in your head and neck. One such condition is a cerebral (brain) aneurysm.

What is a cerebral aneurysm?
A cerebral (brain) aneurysm is a bulging area in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to your brain. A cerebral aneurysm usually causes no symptoms; however, the aneurysm can rupture and cause a stroke.

What are symptoms of a cerebral aneurysm?
Most cerebral aneurysms cause no symptoms and may be discovered only while being tested or treated for another condition. If a cerebral aneurysm presses on an area of your brain, you may experience severe headaches, blurry vision, and difficulty with speech.

A ruptured cerebral aneurysm may cause the following symptoms:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Neck pain

If you experience any of these symptoms, see a health care provider immediately.

What causes a cerebral aneurysm?
You may be genetically predisposed to developing cerebral aneurysms. Atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in your arteries, can also play a role.

What are some risk factors for a cerebral aneurysm?
Some risk factors for a cerebral aneurysm may include:

  • Family history of cerebral aneurysms
  • Personal history of cerebral aneurysms
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

How is a cerebral aneurysm diagnosed?
If you have a cerebral aneurysm, you may need to undergo a:

  • CT scan: an imaging test that helps locate bleeding in your brain.
  • Computed tomography angiogram (CTA): an imaging test that uses X-ray, computer technology, and contrast dye to create images of your cerebral arteries and brain.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): an imaging test that uses radio waves, a magnet, and often contrast dye to create images of your cerebral arteries and brain.
  • Cerebral angiography: a minimally invasive procedure that uses X-ray and contrast dye to see your cerebral arteries in real time.

How is a cerebral aneurysm treated?
The treatment you will need for a cerebral aneurysm depends on a number of factors. If your aneurysm is large and causing pain or other symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. Procedures may include:

  • Coil embolization: a procedure in which a small tube is inserted into the weakened artery near the aneurysm. To relieve pressure on the aneurysm and prevent it from rupturing, tiny metal coils are moved through the tube into the aneurysm.
  • Surgical clipping: a procedure in which a small metal clip is placed around the base of the aneurysm to decrease pressure and prevent it from rupturing.
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