Aneurysms can be a frightening thing to deal with. The stress, depression and pain it can cause you and your family can have an effect on your everyday life for lengthy periods of time. What can make things scarier is not having a proper understanding of this potentially life-threatening condition.

What Is An Aneurysm?

An aneurysm occurs when the walls of an artery weaken and a spherical-shaped bulge forms. They can be formed in any blood vessel in the brain, in the thoracic aorta (the largest artery in the body), in the abdominal aorta and in the heart itself. Aneurysms are usually categorized into shapes and sizes which include small, large and giant. Recognizing the shape and size of an aneurysm will determine what treatment method will be used.

If an aneurysm continues to grow in size, it can eventually burst or dissect, which can lead to fatal consequences such as a hemorrhagic stroke and hypovolemic shock. It’s important to understand and consider the risk factors that could potentially lead to an aneurysm. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Aging

Some of these risk factors are hereditary and can be hard to manage, while others such as syphilis, tuberculosis and brain infections can be a product of specific infective causes.

Symptoms

The symptoms of an aneurysm can vary with the location it is within the body. Whatever the case, it’s important to seek medical assistance upon the discovery of any indication of an aneurysm. These symptoms generally include:

When the aneurysm is present near the surface of the body:

  • Pain in the abdominal area, back or scrotum
  • Swelling
  • Vomiting

Cerebral aneurysms:

  • Vision problems
  • Loss of balance and perception
  • Fatigue
  • Speech problems

If the aneurysm has ruptured, you may experience the following:

  • Severe headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Neck pain
  • Pain around the eyes

Diagnosis

Before acquiring proper treatment for your aneurysm, you will be subjected to a thorough diagnosis that will determine the location of the problem and the size/shape of the aneurysm. This diagnosis will generally consist of:

  • Medical history check – in which a neurosurgeon will discuss your medical background, the severity and details of your symptoms and what treatments you’ve been previously given.
  • Physical examinations – during this examination, your neurosurgeon will listen to your heart and arteries, check for pain in the neck and check your blood pressure.
  • Diagnostic tests – these generally include x-rays, CAT scans and MRIs.

Treatment Options

Treatment for an aneurysm depends on factors such as location, size and if the aneurysm has ruptured. The following are three of the most efficient ways to treat a cerebral aneurysm.

  • Microsurgical Clipping – the veteran of aneurysm treatment, this procedure consists of the removal of a small part of bone to access the affected area. Upon finding access, a titanium clip will be placed on the aneurysm to prevent bleeding and keep blood flow away from it.
  • Endovascular Coiling – this minimally invasive procedure will find access to the aneurysm without making an incision in the skull. A coil will then be placed in the aneurysm to seal it through clotting.
  • Pipeline® Embolization – this state-of-the-art procedure places the Pipeline® Embolization device inside the artery and seals it. The minimally invasive nature of this treatment will keep you from experiencing severe pain and will leave minimal scarring.

Recovering from Aneurysm Surgery

Technological advancements can now keep you from experiencing lengthy stays in the hospital. The minimally invasive procedures that exist today could potentially have you walking out of the hospital just two days after surgery with less pain and scarring compared to the treatments of yesterday.