If you have an unruptured brain aneurysm that will be monitored, you will need to have follow-up imaging studies. Your healthcare providers may order a brain MRI, brain MRA, brain CT, brain CTA, or a cerebral angiogram at certain intervals to monitor your aneurysm. The size and location of your brain aneurysm determine which of these is the best imaging technique for you.
After a brain aneurysm rupture, bleeding in the brain can cause seizures, loss of consciousness, paralysis, vision loss, or difficulty communicating. Other complications may occur, such as heart and blood pressure irregularities and difficulty breathing. Edema (swelling) can occur in the brain as well, causing further brain damage.
There are several factors associated with a higher chance of brain aneurysm rupture:
Some unruptured aneurysms need to be surgically repaired, while others are not treated. Because the repair of an aneurysm involves major brain surgery, the risk of surgery may be deemed higher than the risk of an aneurysm rupture in some cases. For example, small aneurysms, often described as berry aneurysms, are often not treated.
An aneurysm may cause the arterial wall to rip, tear, or rupture.
Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 50% of cases. Of those who survive, about 66% suffer some permanent neurological deficit. Approximately 15% of people with a ruptured aneurysm die before reaching the hospital. Most of these deaths are due to rapid and massive brain injury from the initial bleeding.
The effects of a ruptured brain aneurysm usually worsen quickly within minutes—necessitating emergency medical treatment.
Certain aneurysms are more likely to bleed, or rupture. A rupture is a critical and potentially life-threatening situation. Your care team will determine how likely the aneurysm is to rupture so it can plan your treatment.
The bleeding, called subarachnoid hemorrhage, can cause serious damage. That’s why doctors do everything possible when treating a brain aneurysm to prevent it from rupturing.
For an unruptured brain aneurysm, your doctor will decide whether it’s better to treat the aneurysm now or monitor you carefully (called watchful waiting).
Will I need surgery to treat an unruptured brain aneurysm?
Think of an aneurysm as a balloon that forms in the wall of a blood vessel. If you keep blowing air into a balloon, the walls of the balloon stretch until it eventually pops. Aneurysms do the same thing.
Absolutely. Many aneurysms cause no symptoms at all. Some people live for years without knowing they have a brain aneurysm.
What does it mean when an aneurysm bleeds?
If treatment is necessary, your doctor will consider which treatment is best for your circumstances. The two most effective treatments for brain aneurysms today are:
It’s important to choose a medical team that knows brain aneurysms. The more surgeries a center performs on brain aneurysms, the better it is at ensuring safe and effective results.