Brain aneurysm, also termed intracranial aneurysm, refers to a bulge in a blood vessel traversing across the cognition centre of the body. It happens due to weak structures of the blood vessel, which eventually puffs up like a balloon and gets filled with blood. In most instances, brain aneurysms do not trigger extreme reactions or symptoms and can be effectively treated with pertinent medications and surgery. However, when a brain aneurysm ruptures, it induces excessive bleeding within the cerebral tissues and leads to a haemorrhagic stroke. This is a life-threatening condition that prompts persistent, excruciating headaches and requires emergency medical care and hospitalization.

Also Read: Stroke/Cerebrovascular Accident: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Brain aneurysm

Causes Of Brain Aneurysm:

The exact causes of a brain aneurysm are not known, but an injury to the head, certain infections, genetically inherited factors and poor lifestyle habits are known to induce distensions in the cerebral blood vessels. When this occurs, an aneurysm can present in three distinct forms:

Ruptured Aneurysm:

When blood vessels in the brain swell up to a massive extent as a result of vast amounts of blood pouring into the channels, they burst open, being termed ruptured aneurysms. Ruptured aneurysms happen only on rare occasions, with grave headaches that require urgent medical treatment in a hospital.

Leaking Aneurysm:

A leaking aneurysm is one wherein the influx of blood into the brain’s blood vessels widens the narrow tubules, leading to breaks in its structure and leakage of blood into the brain. If the leak in the blood vessel is minor, it only gives rise to throbbing headaches but at times, the leaks may become larger in size, eventually leading to a more severe ruptured aneurysm.

Unruptured Aneurysm:

An unruptured aneurysm involves only swelling up blood vessels in the brain, without leaking blood into the cerebral tissues. It takes place more commonly in people, triggering no symptoms if the bulge is very small but inducing eye pain, numbness in the face if the swollen blood vessel brushes against the nerves.

Risk Factors:

Doctors have determined certain attributes that make an individual more prone to brain aneurysms. These consist of:

  • Old age, with women being affected more than men
  • Unhealthy smoking, drug addictions
  • Frequent intake of alcohol
  • Already suffering from hypertension/high blood pressure
  • Having recently encountered head injuries
  • A family history of brain aneurysms
  • Enduring genetic inherited disorders right from childhood like polycystic kidney disease
  • Facing inherited connective tissue illnesses that make blood vessels in the brain more weak and fragile
  • Having very narrow aorta – the blood vessel that transports blood containing oxygen, from the heart to other parts of the body

Symptoms:

Depending upon the type of brain aneurysm – ruptured, leaking or unruptured, the affected individual experiences various symptoms, including:

Ruptured aneurysm:

  • Sudden headache with agonizing pain
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Becoming unconscious
  • Abnormal drooping eyelids, with heightened sensitivity to light
  • Seizure
  • Mental confusion

Leaking aneurysm:

  • Headache that begins abruptly with a pounding sensation

Unruptured aneurysm:

In minor swelling of a blood vessel in the brain:

  • Mild headache or no symptoms

If swollen blood vessels press against the nerves:

  • Pain behind one eye
  • Numb feeling along one side of the face
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Hazy vision

Diagnosis:

The doctor enquires about the symptoms experienced by the patient, as well as their family medical history, besides the severity of the headaches and whether they began suddenly. Several diagnostic tests are then carried out, to determine the location and extent of damage of the brain aneurysm. These comprise:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid test, where a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is collected from the patient and examined for indications of ruptured aneurysms
  • Imaging analyses of CT scans/Computed Tomography and MRI scans i.e. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which provide detailed visuals of different sections of the brain, to spot the precise site and nature of blood vessel swelling and leakage

Treatment:

Treatment for brain aneurysms depends upon the nature of blood vessel damage. If a ruptured aneurysm is detected, then surgery is performed, entailing invasive procedures of either surgical clipping or endovascular coiling. Furthermore, prescription medicines of pain-relievers to alleviate headaches and anti-seizure drugs to ease mental instability, nerve responses are given by the doctor, to manage symptoms associated with a brain aneurysm.

If an unruptured brain aneurysm is identified, then the healthcare provider suggests that no further treatment is required in cases of very minor symptoms or patients having other underlying conditions. Only when the signs of an unruptured aneurysm hamper eyesight – like double vision, eye pain, or cause undue facial discomfort due to numbness, then surgical interventions are performed, to mitigate these uneasy symptoms in the patient.