Brain Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel in the brain develops a thin or weak spot. The pressure of the blood against the weakened wall of the blood vessel then causes it to bulge out. Other terms used to describe aneurysms located in the brain include cerebral, intracranial or intracerebral aneurysm. Many aneurysms go unnoticed and untreated; however, if left untreated, aneurysms can burst and cause hemorrhagic stroke leading to brain damage or death. The interventional neuroradiologists of Houston Radiology associated diagnose and treat several kinds of neurovascular diseases and conditions, including brain aneurysms.

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Brain Aneurysm Causes

There are several causes of brain aneurysms, and sometimes it may be a combination of factors, but knowing whether or not you are at a higher risk for developing brain aneurysms helps in the diagnoses and treatment to avoid future complications. The following is a list of risk factors that contribute to developing aneurysms:

  • Genetics & Family History: While this risk factor cannot be controlled, it is important to note that family history plays a large role in an individuals susceptibility to developing brain aneurysms.
  • Previous Aneurysms: Patients who have suffered from aneurysms in the past are more likely to develop subsequent aneurysms.
  • Gender: Unfortunately, women are more prone to developing aneurysms and suffering from stroke than men.
  • High Blood Pressure: Because of the stress aneurysms cause on the arterial wall, high blood pressure is a contributing factor to aneurysm ruptures.
  • Smoking Cigarettes: As if there weren’t enough reasons already that smoking cigarettes were bad for your health, smoking increases your risk factor for developing brain aneurysms.

Brain Aneurysm Symptoms

As previously mentioned many brain aneurysms go unnoticed and undetected by individuals who suffer from them and are discovered in the process of testing for other issues and conditions. In some cases, the bulging of the vessel wall could be pressing against other areas of the brain and cause the following symptoms depending on the location:

  • Severe headaches
  • Pain above and behind the eye
  • Dilated pupils
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Decreased feeling in the face
  • Blurred or changed vision
  • Changes in speech
  • Neck pain

A ruptured aneurysm, or subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke, has very clear warning signs. We’ve also compiled a list of informational materials for stroke on our Resources page. The symptoms of stroke often come on suddenly and include the following signs:

  • Sudden, severe headache (often described as more severe than any experienced previously in life)
  • Sudden pain above and behind the eye
  • Vision problems — sudden blurred or double vision — or just trouble seeing
  • Light sensitivity
  • Seizures
  • Neck pain or stiffness of the neck
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sudden mental confusion or lack of awareness
  • Sudden weakness, numbness, dizziness or trouble walking
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

A good acronym to learn was developed in 1998 by a group of stroke physicians and is circulated by the American Stroke Association to help spot the symptoms of stroke FAST (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, and Time).

Diagnosing Brain Aneurysms

Doctor Diaz and Doctor Klucznik provide a range of diagnostic services, but Cerebral Angiography is specifically used for diagnosing aneurysms. Cerebral angiography is also used to diagnose any vascular diseases of the brain including arterial blockage. Angiograms are performed by the doctor injecting a contrast dye through the carotid or vertebral artery so they can see where the abnormality is located. Using X-ray and computer imaging, we are able to render 3-D images of arteries and veins.

Brain Aneurysm Treatment

Once a patient has been diagnosed with an aneurysm there are a number of different minimally invasive treatment procedures available to make sure that each patient minimizes the risk of hemorrhagic stroke and associated complications. Factors that determine the type of treatment received include your age, size of the aneurysm, additional risk factors, and your overall health. Aneurysms can be treated by our doctors with the following procedures:

  • Coil embolization
    This entails putting small platinum coils in to the aneurysm to fill the sac and obliterate it from the inside by using small microcatheters guided under X-Ray . Some coils such as Hydrocoils have coatings on them to promote healing. The placement of coils can be aided by using a balloon or sometimes with a stent to keep the coils in the aneurysm.
           
  • Flow Diversion
    Newer technology utilizes a different type of stent that has a lot of metal that diverts blood away from the aneurysm without having to touch the aneurysm sac. Patients are placed on blood thinners beforehand to prevent this type of stent from clotting. The aneurysm then clots off and the body gets rid of it over time. Two devices approved for such treatment are Pipeline and FRED.
  • Intra-saccular Devices
              This is the newest  type of treatment where a single mesh type device is delivered in to an aneurysm by using a                                  micracatheter and deployed. The only FDA approved device right now in the Woven Endobridge (WEB).

To learn more about the innovation used to treat brain aneurysms visit our Specialties and Services page. 

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Doctor Diaz and Doctor Klucznik treat all of their patients with minimally invasive endovascular procedures. Endovascular repair has a lower risk of complications compared to open surgery. Your doctor is more likely to suggest this type of repair if you have other serious medical problems or are elderly.

Most people stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days after this surgery, depending on the type of procedure they had.

During a hospital stay, you may:

  • Be in the intensive care unit (ICU), where you will be watched very closely at first
  • Have a urinary catheter
  • Be given medicines to thin your blood
  • Be encouraged to sit on the side of your bed and then walk
  • Wear special stockings to prevent blood clots in your legs
  • Receive pain medicine into your veins or into the space that surrounds your spinal cord (epidural)

Recovery after endovascular repair is quick in most cases and generally faster than more invasive procedures.

After endovascular repair, you will still need to be monitored regularly to make sure your repaired aneurysm is not leaking.

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Why Choose Us ?

Choose Houston Neurovascular Center for caring doctors and staff with unparalleled knowledge and experience in the field of Interventional Neuroradiology. Our neurointerventional surgeons are at the leading edge of treatment research and studies. We accept most major insurance carriers to make sure that the financial aspect of your care is as seamless as possible.

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