Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Aneurysm in the brain
An aneurysm is a weak area in the wall of a blood vesel that causes the blood vessel to bulge or balloon out. When an aneurysm occurs in a blood vessel of the brain, it is called a cerebral aneurysm. Causes Aneurysms in the brain occur when there is a weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel. An aneurysm may be present from birth (congenital) or it may develop later in life, such as after a blood vessel is injured. There are many different types of aneurysms. A berry aneurysm can vary in size from a few millimeters to over a centimeter. Giant berry aneurysms can reach well over 2 centimeters. These are more common in adults. Multiple berry aneurysms are inherited more often than other types of aneurysms. Other types of cerebral aneurysm involve widening of an entire blood vessel, or they may appear as a "ballooning out" of part of a blood vessel. Such aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel that supplies the brain. Atherosclerosis, trauma, and infection, which can injure the blood vessel wall, can cause cerebral aneurysms. About 5% of the population has some type of aneurysm in the brain, but only a small number of these aneurysms cause symptoms or rupture. Risk factors include a family history of cerebral aneurysms, and certain medical problems such as polycystic kidney disease, coarctation of the aorta, and high blood pressu Symptoms A person may have an aneurysm without having any symptoms. This kind of aneurysm may be found when an MRI or CT scan of the brain is done for another reason. A cerebral aneurysm may begin to "leak" a small amount of blood. This may cause a severe headache that a patient may describe as "the worst headache of my life." Another phrase used to describe this is a sentinel headache. This means the headache could be a warning sign of a rupture days or weeks after the headache first happens. Symptoms may also occur if the aneurysm pushes on nearby structures in the brain or breaks open (ruptures) and causes bleeding into the brain. Symptoms depend on the location of the aneurysm, whether it breaks open, and what part of the brain it is pushing on, but may include: * Double vision * Loss of vision * Headaches * Eye pain * Neck pain * Stiff neck A sudden, severe headache is one symptom of an aneurysm that has ruptured. Other symptoms of an aneurysm rupture may include: * Confusion, lethargy, sleepiness, or stupor * Eyelid drooping * Headaches with nausea or vomiting * Muscle weakness or difficulty moving any part of the body * Numbness or decreased sensation in any part of the body * Seizures * Speech impairment * Stiff neck (occasionally) * Vision changes (double vision, loss of vision) NOTE: A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical help. Treatment Two common methods are used to repair an aneurysm: * Clipping is the most common way to repair an aneurysm. this is done during open brain surgery. See also: Brain surgery (craniotomy) * Endovascular repair, most often using a "coil" or coiling, is a less invasive way to treat some aneurysms. If an aneurysm in the brain ruptures, it is an emergency that needs medical treatment and often requires surgery. Endovascular repair is more often used when this happens. Even if there are no symptoms, your doctor may order treatment to prevent a future, possibly fatal rupture. Not all aneurysms need to be treated right away. Those that are very small (less than 3 mm) are less likely to break open. Your doctor will help you decide whether it is safer to have surgery to block off the aneurysm before it can break open (rupture). Someone may be too ill to have surgery, or it may be too dangerous to treat the aneurysm because of its location. Treatment may involve: * Complete bedrest and activity restrictions * Drugs to prevent seizures * Medicines to control headaches and blood pressure Once the aneurysm is repaired, prevention of stroke from blood vessel spasm may be necessary. This may include intravenous fluids, certain medications, and letting the blood pressure get high.