Aneurysm: weak area of a blood vessel. Can occur throughout body. If large enough, can rupture and be life threatening.
An aneurysm is a weak area in a blood vessel that causes bulging, dilation or ballooning of the blood vessel. Although aneurysms are more common in older people and women, they can occur at any age in either sex. In most cases, aneurysms form at the point where blood vessels divide into branches. Cerebral aneurysms are usually found at the base of the brain, just inside the skull. Their size usually ranges from 1/8 inch to 1 inch.
An aneurysm can exist in a ruptured or unruptured state. A ruptured aneurysm is one that has broken open.
Aneurysms in brain vessels occur when an area of the blood vessel's wall is weakened. Aneurysms can be congenital (i.e., present from birth) or they may develop later in life. The blood vessel wall might be weakened due to infection or injury.
Following are risk factors that may lead to or facilitate the development of aneurysms:
The symptoms of aneurysms depend on whether they are ruptured or unruptured.
Patients suffering from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm may exhibit symptoms such as:
Most of patients with unruptured cerebral aneurysms do not show any symptoms. Others might exhibit some or all of the following:
The following are used to diagnose aneurysms:
Not all aneurysms require immediate treatment. Very small (less than 3 mm) aneurysms are less likely to break or rupture; thus, may not need immediate treatment.
A surgeon may decide to treat aneurysm, even when it does not show any symptoms, in order to prevent the possibility of a fatal rupture in the future.
Surgery may involve coiling or clipping and is used to treat both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. This is one of the most commonly used methods for repairing aneurysms.
Endovascular surgery often uses a "coil" or coiling to repair aneurysms. This is a less invasive way to treat certain aneurysms.