Neuroscience

Facts About Brain Aneurysms

Older Hispanic woman having a headache

One in fifty people have an unruptured aneurysm.

What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is a bulge, or ballooning that develops in a weakened wall of a cerebral (brain) blood vessel, says Dr. Scott Rahimi, a Neurosurgery Specialist at Augusta University Health.

Causes of brain aneurysms

Brain aneurysms are not inherited, however, if more than one relative has an aneurysm, the risk of someone in the family having an aneurysm goes up.

A ruptured cerebral (brain) aneurysm causes a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This accounts for 3-5% of all new strokes. Around 10-30% of patients die before reaching the hospital.

People between the ages of 55-60 are most affected because of the pressure from blood flow causes the weakened area to bulge out and then rupture. Bleeding from a damaged blood vessel causes blood to accumulate at the surface of the brain in the subarachnoid space.

Warning signs

Some common warning signs that patients experience are:

  • Sudden onset of a headache “the worst headache of my life” “thunderclap headache”
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

“One out of three people that have an aneurysm that ruptures die at home. Sometimes we incidentally find out about aneurysms through a CT scan or MRI brain.”

Prevention

Here are some ways to help prevent aneurysms:

Treatment options

The good news is that there are treatment options available. Treatment options depend on various factors, such as size, type and location of the aneurysm. Treatment is the only way to prevent rebleeding. Treatment options include surgery and endovascular therapy.

  • Surgery. Surgical clip is placed across the neck of the aneurysm. This prevents blood flow from entering the aneurysm.
  • Endovascular therapy.
    • Coil embolization – A catheter is threaded through the femoral artery, via a small skin incision near the groin. Coils are inserted into the aneurysm. This prevents blood flow from entering the aneurysm.
    • Flow diverter stent – A flow diverter device is inserted into the parent artery, diverting the blood flow away from the aneurysm. This results in the aneurysm decreasing in size over time.

Augusta University Health treats 80-100 aneurysms per year. “Augusta University has had a lot of success treating aneurysms. The Augusta University Stroke center is an excellent resource for stroke care for our city.”

Augusta University Health treats 80-100 aneurysms per year. “Augusta University has had a lot of success treating aneurysms. The Augusta University Stroke Center is an excellent resource for stroke care for our city.”

Augusta University Medical Center, located in the heart of the stroke belt, is the area’s only Joint Commission-certified Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. Patients in rural Georgia hospitals have fast access to quality stroke care at Augusta University Medical Center and through REACH Health Inc., a telemedicine program pioneered at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, which allows neurologists to diagnose and treat stroke patients remotely.

To make an appointment and learn about our services and providers, call us at 706-721-4581 or visit augustahealth.org/neuro.

For more information on the Department of Neurosurgery, call 706-721-3071 or visit augusta.edu/mcg/neurosurgery/.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.