Causes of Aneurysms

Aneurysms develop when a weakened area of the wall of a blood vessel balloons. Aneurysms may develop at any point in life, or may be congenital. There are different types of aneurysms:

  • Berry aneurysms: a few millimeters to over a centimeter wide
  • Giant berry aneurysms: over 2 centimeters wide

Giant berry aneurysms are more common in adults, and are often inherited. Cerebral aneurysms involve the widening of a vessel, or ballooning of a blood vessel. Cerebral aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel that supplies the brain. Trauma and infection can also cause cerebral aneurysms. Roughly 5% of the population has some sort of aneurysm in the brain. Risk factors include medical conditions such as coarctation and polycystic kidney disease. Aneurysms can even result in death.

Symptoms of Aneurysms

Aneurysms are usually only problematic when they rupture, causing bleeding into the brain. Aneurysms can be found when a CT scan or MRI is performed for other medical reasons. Further symptoms can develop if the aneurysm pushes on areas of the brain. Symptoms may include:

  • Loss of vision and double vision
  • Confusion, stupor, sleepiness, lethargy
  • Eyelid drooping, nausea, vomiting, headaches
  • Muscle weakness, numbness, decreased sensation
  • Seizures
  • Stiff neck
  • Speech impairment
  • Irritability, impulsivity, poor temper control

Symptoms do not typically appear until an aneurysm has ruptured. A ruptured cerebral aneurysm is an emergency medical condition that needs immediate attention.

Neurosurgery is the go-to treatment for cerebral aneurysms. The base of the aneurysm is closed off with clamps , sutures or other materials that prevent blood flow through the aneurysm.

Alternative treatments to surgery can include placing coils or stents into the aneurysm through your arteries, which causes a clot to form and prevents further bleeding. This procedure is considered less invasive than brain surgery, and is regarded as the best form of treatment in most cases.

If neurosurgery cannot be performed because of the size and location of the aneurysm, or the patient’s overall health condition, treatment will include:

  • Medications to prevent seizures, headaches and blood pressure
  • Complete bed rest
  • Activity restrictions