Brain aneurysm support group meeting at RWJUH wellness center
Support group meet lecture by Dr Gupta
Picture of a patient drawing
An aneurysm is an abnormal, weak spot on a blood vessel that causes an outward bulging or ballooning of the arterial wall. These weak spots can involve all walls of the blood vessel (fusiform aneurysm), form a sac from one wall (saccular) or separate the vessel walls (dissecting). An aneurysm can affect any vessel in the body but only those in the head can cause a serious medical condition, a hemorrhagic stroke when they rupture, which can lead to brain damage and death.
It is estimated that up to one in 15 people in the United States will develop a brain aneurysm during their lifetime.
Brain aneurysms are often discovered when they rupture, causing bleeding into the brain or the space closely surrounding the brain called the subarachnoid space, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Subarachnoid hemorrhage from a ruptured brain aneurysm can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage and death.
The main goals of treatment once an aneurysm has ruptured are to stop the bleeding and potential permanent damage to the brain and to reduce the risk of recurrence. Unruptured brain aneurysms are sometimes treated to prevent rupture. Learn more about treatment options for a brain aneurysm.
Incidence Rates of Brain Aneurysms
Brain aneurysms are an uncommon disorder of the blood vessels that are usually acquired with age and affect approximately 6% of the United States population.
The annual incidence of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in the U.S. exceeds 30,000 people. Ten to 15 percent of these patients will die before reaching the hospital and over 50 percent will die within the first thirty days after rupture. Of those who survive, about half suffer some permanent neurological deficit
The most significant risk factors are cigarette smoking and having a close relative who had an aneurysm.
The average age at presentation is usually 40 to 60 years old.
Aneurysms are found more commonly in females than in males (3:2), and 20% of patients have multiple (two or more) aneurysms.
Diagnosis of Brain Aneurysms
Aneurysms rupture at about 1-2% per year but varies with the size, location and history of previous aneurysm rupture. Unfortunately, most aneurysms present because they have ruptured. Occasionally, large aneurysms can present with vision changes, pain above and behind the eye, nerve paralysis, localized headache, neck pain, nausea and vomiting, or other neurological symptoms. Fortunately, an increasing number of aneurysms are found pryor to rupturing because CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) are now used commonly to assess patients with these complaints. These are noninvasive methods a radiologist uses to look at the blood vessels in the head. A physician will determine which is the better option for each patient. MR does not involve radiation or contrast risks, while a CT produces better resolution and is better for operative planning. Patients suspected of having a ruptured aneurysm typically undergo a CT scan of the head and a CT angiogram, which shows subarachnoid hermorrhage and the aneurysm.
While CT and MR can show many aneurysms, most patients with aneurysms need a cerebral angiogram for definitive diagnosis and to determine the best treatment. An angiogram is an invasive procedure during which a neuro-interventional surgeon guides a flexible tube (catheter) through an artery over the hip to the vessels of the brain. A liquid dye or contrast agent is injected into the vessel, and pictures are taken with a fluoroscope. An angiogram gives the highest detailed pictures of the location, size, and shape of the aneurysm. All of this information is used to develop the best treatment option for each patient.