What is Brain Aneurysm?
Formation of bulge or balloon like structure in the blood vessel of the brain is known as brain aneurysm. It looks similar to that of berry fruit in size and shape. Most of the brain aneurysm are not symptomatic and are not detected. It is diagnosed while testing the brain or MRI scanning done for other diseases or conditions. Many times, brain aneurysms do not cause any problem and hence go unnoticed. In rare cases, they get ruptured leaking blood into the brain which can cause stroke or seizures or rarely death. Brain aneurysm can be repaired by surgical clipping or putting a coil to prevent further bleeding.
Mild cases of brain aneurysm would not cause any symptoms. Severe types of aneurysm in the brain may cause leakage and internal bleeding. In such cases of ruptured aneurysm it can cause symptoms of stiff neck, seizure, blurred vision, severe headache, and confusion of thoughts.
Headaches caused by such ruptured aneurysm can be very intense and unbearable, since blood leakage inside the brain can cause irritation and significant pain. An aneurysm that is large in size but has not ruptured or leaked can cause mild symptoms like change in vision, dilated pupul and droopy eyelids.
There are four major arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the brain which runs around the Circle of Willis. At some point of junction all these arteries come closer and gradually they can become weak forming bulge like balloon filled with blood. It may look like a small pouch hanging from the artery.
Exact cause of formation of brain aneurysm is not known. It can form due to high blood pressure, trauma or injury to the head or due to atherosclerosis. Prolonged drug abuse can cause bulging of artery walls in the brain or heart leading to aneurysm. In some people genetic factors are involved.
Risk Factors :
Hypertension, consuming too much of alcohol, excess of smoking, old age, sudden head injury and hardening of arteries can increase the risk of developing brain aneurysm.
Rupturing of brain aneurysm is life threatening and requires immediate medical care. The blood can leak into the surrounding cells of the brain and can cause intracranial pressure. This induces high pressure causing loss of consciousness and even death.
Due to continuous leakage of blood inside the brain, blood vessels of the brain may constrict erratically leading to vasospasm which can cause stroke or seizure. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is the leaking of blood in the surrounding tissue of the brain which can lead to hydrocephalus damaging the brain tissues.
Mild form of brain aneurysm does not cause any problem and often will not be detected. But if you develop severe headache with nausea or vomiting you need to get immediate medical care. Your doctor may request for CT scan or MRI scan of the brain to detect internal bleeding due to rupture of brain aneurysm. Cerebrospinal fluid is tested on the lab to detect ruptured aneurysm. In some cases cerebral angiogram is done for detecting aneurysm.
Severe forms of brain aneurysm can be repaired surgically. The surgeon would place a clip on the bulge to stop the blood supply to the balloon like sac so that it will not grow anymore. Alternatively he may use endovascular coiling in which catheter is inserted into the brain to cut off the blood supply to the sac of aneurysm. A wire is subsequently sent through the catheter to coil up the sac thus interrupting the blood supply.
Your doctor will consider several factors like your age, health, location and size of aneurysm before deciding on surgery. For mild to moderate form of brain aneurysm pain killers like Tylenol can be taken to get relief from headache. Calcium channel blockers are effective in disrupting the blood flow to the sac of aneurysm. Seizures caused by ruptured aneurysm can be effectively treated by medications like valporic acid, phenytoin and levetiracetam. Vasopressor injection is given intravenously to the patient to prevent getting stroke due to ruptured aneurysm.
Lifestyle Changes :
Avoid smoking and drinking, once you are detected with mild aneurysm since it can increase its size causing complications.