Brain Aneurysm

by Sam Malone

An aneurysm is the bulging out or the pouching of any weak area in a blood vessel. When this condition happens in the blood vessels feeding the brain, it is called a brain aneurysm. This abnormal state of the blood vessel inside the brain puts pressure on the surrounding tissue and may result in various complications including a stroke. The bulging artery causes a pressure buildup in the surrounding blood vessels and when these vessels rupture, the individual suffers from a hemorrhagic stroke. A severe hemorrhage can even be fatal.

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is a cerebrovascular disease. It is also known as a cerebral aneurysm,an intracranial aneurysm, or an intracerebral aneurysm. Brain aneurysms may develop due to congenital or non-congenital factors. One of the common reasons for an aneurysm in the brain is the weakening or the thinning of the artery walls. Some of the associated causes are an increase in pressure of the blood, any type of blood infection, a previous history of brain injury or trauma, a tumor and the formation of plaque in the walls of the blood vessels.

According to an article published by the Journal of Insurance Medicine, the percentage of cerebral aneurysms prevalent in the general population is approximately between 0.5 to 1 percent. There may be certain risk factors associated with the condition. Some of these are:
  • A family history of brain aneurysms
  • Conditions such as polycystic kidney ailment, Marfan syndrome or fibromuscular dysplasia  
  • Smoking and the overconsumption of alcohol
  • Women are at a higher risk of developing an aneurysm of the brain.

Types

There are different types of brain aneurysms that may affect an individual. A berry aneurysm is the most common type of brain aneurysm. The size of a berry aneurysm may range from a few millimeters to a couple of centimeters. In other cases, instead of a small portion of the vessel bulging, the entire blood vessel widens.

Symptoms

The symptoms of an aneurysm of the brain may vary depending upon the location, size and the part of the brain that is being put under pressure due to the bulging out of the blood vessel. Some of the common symptoms are:
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain in the eye and the neck
  • Weakness or numbness in one side of the body
  • Headache
Brain aneurysms may not be usually detected until the occurrence of a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This is a condition which occurs due to the rupturing of the aneurysm of the brain. Although there are no clear causes with evidences as to why the aneurysm ruptures, the condition is expected to be associated with the different hemodynamic characteristics such as the flow patterns, location, size of the aneurysm,etc. According to an article published in The Lancet on SciVerse Science Direct journal, most of the patients with ruptured cerebral aneurysm report an intense headache due to the leak of blood within the brain known as a sentinel or thunderclap headache.

Diagnosis

A brain aneurysm is medically diagnosed with the help of different methods such as:
  • Cerebral angiography
  • Computed tomography scan
  • Magnetic resonance angiogram
  • Cerebrospinal fluid exam
  • Electroencephalogram

Treatment

The treatment options that a physician usually chooses for the repair of a cerebral aneurysm are the coil embolization technique and/or a surgical clipping procedure. The surgeons implement the techniques in both the ruptured and non-ruptured cases.
According to the morbidity study results as published in the Journal of Insurance Medicine, about 30 to 46 percent of patients completely recover after the repair of the ruptured aneurysm in brain. However, about 25 to 75 percent of patients face long-term psychological disabilities.
 
References

  1. http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/001414.htm
  2. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=591908

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