Cerebral Aneurysms – What are they and How can they be Treated?
A cerebral aneurysm is a swelling or ballooning of a blood vessel in the brain. Since the wall of the artery is weakened, there is a risk of rupture which can cause bleeding into the brain, also known as a hemorrhagic stroke. In most cases, cerebral aneurysms occur in the area between the brain and the thin layers of tissue that cover it. A ruptured cerebral aneurysm can become life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Fortunately, most aneurysms don’t rupture, cause symptoms or result in serious health problems and are often detected when undergoing testing for other conditions. Treating an unruptured aneurysm can be an appropriate option in some cases and can prevent it from rupturing in the future.
The Causes of a Cerebral Aneurysm
At the moment, the cause of cerebral aneurysms is not entirely understood. However, there are many associations linked to the condition with the ultimate cause being the breakdown in the wall of an artery and the effects of the pressure from blood pumping through it. Some risk factors of cerebral aneurysm may include:
- Individuals over the age of 40 are more likely to develop a cerebral aneurysm
- Factors that increase the risk of developing a disease such as family history, diet and smoking
- Severe trauma or injury inflicted to the head
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
- Complications resulting from certain blood infections
The Symptoms of a Cerebral Aneurysm
You may not even be aware of a cerebral aneurysm before it ruptures. However, there may occasionally be signs that appear prior to rupture. Some of the symptoms of a cerebral aneurysm include:
- Sudden and severe headache
- Eye pain and blurred or double vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiff neck
- Loss of balance or control
- Sensitivity to light
- Back or leg pain
- Loss of Consciousness
Treatment Options for a Cerebral Aneurysm
Specific treatment options for a cerebral aneurysm are dependent on a variety of factors including your age, medical history, overall health, extent of the condition, symptoms, treatment tolerance and your personal preference. Depending on these variables, your doctor will make a recommendation for the intervention that is the most suitable to your condition:
- Small and unruptured aneurysms can be treated through regular monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol and other medical conditions.
- Surgical clipping, or an open craniotomy, which involves removing part of the skull to access the aneurysm. A surgeon then places a small metal clip across the neck of the aneurysm to prevent blood from flowing to it.
- Endovascular coiling is a minimally invasive procedure which means that access to the aneurysm through a significant opening in the skull is not required. Instead, a small hollow tube, or catheter, is inserted into an artery in the groin and fed through this channel until it reaches the aneurysm in the brain. Using a guided wire, a surgeon will push platinum coils through the catheter and directly into the aneurysm. These coils take the shape of the aneurysm, embolizing it before it can rupture.
Depending on the facts of your case, Dr. Lewis can provide you with an accurate and immediate solution to prevent complications caused by a cerebral aneurysm. As one of the leading neurosurgeons in the country, he has acquired the technical skills and experience that are required to handle a delicate procedure such as this. He has written several peer reviewed articles on aneurysms and cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Early in his career, he used to be a cerebrovascular professor at UMMC and has given numerous yearly stroke update conferences too.
Contact us today to learn more about cerebral aneurysms or to schedule a consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.