Brain Aneurysm - Describe Your Experience

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What is a brain aneurysm and what causes a brain aneurysm?

The Circle of Willis is the junction of the four many arteries, two carotid arteries and two vertebral arteries, that supply the brain with nutrition (oxygen and glucose). This loop of arteries is located at the base of the brain and sends out smaller branch arteries to all parts of the brain. The junctions where these arteries come together may develop weak spots. These weak spots can balloon out and fill with blood, creating the outpouchings of blood vessels known as aneurysms. These sac-like areas may leak or rupture, spilling blood into surrounding brain tissue.

Aneurysms have a variety of causes including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, trauma, heredity, and abnormal blood flow at the junction where arteries come together.

There are other rare causes of aneurysms. Mycotic aneurysms are caused by infections of the artery wall. Tumors and trauma can also cause aneurysms to form. Drug abuse, especially cocaine, can cause the artery walls to inflame and weaken.

Brain aneurysms are a common occurrence. At autopsy, incidental aneurysms that have never caused any symptoms or issues are found in more than 1% of people. Most aneurysms remain small and are never diagnosed. Some, however, may gradually become larger and exert pressure on surrounding brain tissue and nerves and may be diagnosed because of stroke-like symptoms including:

  • headache,
  • numbness, or weakness of one side of the face,
  • a dilated pupil, or
  • change in vision.

The greater concern is a brain aneurysm that leaks or ruptures, and potentially causes stroke or death. Blood may leak into one of the membranes (meninges) that covers the brain and spinal canal and is known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage (sub= beneath + arachnoid=one of the brain coverings + hemorrhage=bleeding).

Picture of a brain aneurysm
Picture of a brain aneurysm
Return to Aneurysm (Brain)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Sarah, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 26

I have had headaches all my life but I was at work one night and had tons of pressure in my head and a hurting neck. I am a stubborn woman and didn't want to leave work but my boss came to me about 3 hours later and said I looked bad, pale and my eyes looked funny. He suggested that I needed to go to the hospital but I said no I will be ok. Half an hour later he came back and pretty much demanded I go, so I went. I had a CAT scan about thirty minutes later and then I had to go to the restroom. I had double vision and then it felt like I was stabbed in the head! I finally made it to the door and fell in the floor! I was diagnosed with 5 aneurysms! For 3 weeks the doctor went up through my leg to stop the vasospasms and then the fourth week I had brain surgery. They clipped the two that were on the left side and two weeks later I was released and now I have to go tomorrow to see what to do with the other three!

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Comment from: Gloria, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 20

In 2010 I had 5 brain aneurysms. It was a good thing I went to the emergency room. When I did they scheduled a CAT scan then an MRA to see how big they were. The next day I had an angiogram. They coiled the largest one that measured at 15mm then two months later I had open brain surgery for an aneurysm on my front right side that measured at 5mm. They then inserted a clip for that one. Then 10 months later I had open brain surgery on my left side for another that measured at 4mm. They clipped that one as well. I had 3 strokes after the second surgery when I was still at the hospital recovering. The only effect I had from the stroke was my speech and weakness. After all of that I'm doing just fine. I still have 2 left but they"re small. I get MRAs every two years.

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