Understanding : Brain Aneurysm Basics
Being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm is frightening. Although ruptured aneurysms are relatively uncommon, they represent a very serious illness which is associated with a high rate of mortality and disability. Having survived a ruptured aneurysm is a very difficult experience to have gone through and can be extremely unsettling. Gathering information about your condition can help ease this fear, help begin the healing process, and help bring a sense of comfort and support during a trying time.
A brain aneurysm, also referred to as a cerebral aneurysm or intracranial aneurysm (IA), is a weak bulging spot on the wall of a brain artery very much like a thin balloon or weak spot on an inner tube. Over time, the blood flow within the artery pounds against the thinned portion of the wall and aneurysms form silently from wear and tear on the arteries. As the artery wall becomes gradually thinner from the dilation, the blood flow causes the weakened wall to swell outward. This pressure may cause the aneurysm to rupture and allow blood to escape into the space around the brain. A ruptured brain aneurysm commonly requires advanced surgical treatment.
What are the two types of aneurysms?
A saccular aneurysm is the most common type of aneurysm and account for 80% to 90% of all intracranial aneurysms and are the most common cause of nontraumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). It is also known as a “berry” aneurysm because of its shape. The berry aneurysm looks like a sac or berry forming at the bifuraction or the “Y” segment of arteries. It has a neck and stem. These small, berry-like projections occur at arterial bifurcations and branches of the large arteries at the base of the brain, known as the Circle of Willis.
The fusiform aneurysm is a less common type of aneurysm. It looks like an outpouching of an arterial wall on both sides of the artery or like a blood vessel that is expanded in all directions. The fusiform aneurysm does not have a stem and it seldom ruptures.
Understanding : Warning Signs/ Symptoms
Unruptured brain aneurysms are typically completely asymptomatic. These aneurysms are typically small in size, usually less than one half inch in diameter. However, large unruptured aneurysms can occasionally press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and may result in various neurological symptoms. Any individual experiencing some or all of the following symptoms, regardless of age, should undergo immediate and careful evaluation by a physician.
- Localized Headache
- Dilated pupils
- Blurred or double vision
- Pain above and behind eye
- Weakness and numbness
- Difficulty speaking
Ruptured brain aneurysms usually result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is defined as bleeding into the subarachnoid space. When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause sudden symptoms.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately If You Are Experiencing Some Or All Of These Symptoms:
- Sudden severe headache, the worst headache of your life
- Loss of consciousness
- Stiff Neck
- Sudden blurred or double vision
- Sudden pain above/behind the eye or difficulty seeing
- Sudden change in mental status/awareness
- Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
- Sudden weakness and numbness
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Drooping eyelid