Intracranial aneurysms are known by various names such as brain aneurysms, cerebral aneurysms, or berry aneurysms or sometimes called ballooning of the brain blood vessels. Most types of brain aneurysms do not show any symptoms. They start showing symptoms when they become large, burst, or begin to leak blood.
To understand more about it, keep reading.
What is an Intracranial aneurysm?
An intracranial aneurysm is an abnormal dilation or bulge or ballooning of an artery in the brain. It mainly occurs due to the weakening of the muscular layer of the artery. The image on a scan often resembles a berry hanging on a stem; hence it is known as a berry aneurysm.
It may leak or rupture, which causes bleeding into the brain, resulting in hemorrhagic stroke. A ruptured aneurysm may be critical and requires immediate medical attention.
Severe headache is an important symptom in an aneurysm. These headaches often are sudden and are deemed as the worst headache ever experienced. Other symptoms include:
- Stiff neck
- Double or blurred vision or change in vision
- Drooping eyelid
- Loss of consciousness
- Sensitivity to light
- Pain above or behind the eye
- Weakness on one side of the body or face
- Dilated pupils
There are various risk factors, which may contribute to the formation of aneurysms. They are listed as follows:
- Genetics (history of intracranial aneurysm in the family)
- High blood pressure
- Severe head injury or trauma
- Use of cocaine or other drugs
- Congenital abnormality
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Women are at a higher risk
- Other disorders such as Ehlers-danlos syndrome, fibromuscular dysplasia, Marfan syndrome, and autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease
Family history is taken at the beginning to understand the history of a brain aneurysm in the family. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, your physician may ask you to undergo any of the following screening tests:
- CT scan of the brain
- MRI of the brain
- Cerebrospinal fluid test
- Cerebral angiogram (DSA)
The ideal treatment option depends on various factors such as size, location of the aneurysm, medication condition of the patient, availability of other treatment options, and age of the patient. The goal of the treatment involves preventing the aneurysm from bleeding or bleeding again. The following are some of the commonly available treatment options:
- Endovascular Coiling treatment: In this treatment, the surgeon inserts a catheter (a hollow plastic tube) into the blood vessel (artery) and threads it through your body to the affected region. The entire treatment is then done through this tube/catheter by packing the aneurysm with coils from within.
- Surgical clipping treatment: In this procedure, the surgeon identifies the aneurysm and the artery that is affected. The procedure involves removing a skull section to enter the affected region. The neurosurgeon places a tiny clip on the affected artery to stop the blood flow.
- Flow diverters treatment: This newer treatment option diverts the blood flow away from the affected region. The diversion created restricts the blood movement within the affected area and promotes healing.
Pt. will require additional therapies like:
- Rehabilitative therapy: This treatment option is opted when damage to the brain occurs from a subarachnoid hemorrhage that affects speech, physical, sensory, or cognitive problems.
- Medications: Various medications such as calcium channel blockers, pain killers, anti-epileptic medications may be prescribed.