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Aneurysm

An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in an artery, caused by a weakening of the artery's wall. Aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel, but they occur most often in the brain and in the abdominal aorta. Aneurysms can be caused by:

  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • The buildup of cholesterol and other fatty deposits
  • High blood pressure
  • Injury or infection
  • Inherited blood vessel weakness

If it grows large enough, an aneurysm can be life-threatening. Once a cerebral aneurysm ruptures and fills the brain with blood, the effects can be devastating.

Our highly specialized neurosurgeons are skilled at the most current surgical repair techniques available for treating aneurysms. If you’ve been diagnosed with an aneurysm, find an SSM Health neurosurgeon near you to access the most advanced care in the region.

Signs & Symptoms of an Aneurysm

Most aneurysms don’t have any signs or symptoms until they become very large or rupture. Before an aneurysm ruptures, a patient may experience:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Pain above or behind the eye
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the face

Once an aneurysm ruptures, the most common symptom experienced is a severe, sudden headache, often described as the ‘worst headache of your life.’ Loss of consciousness, sensitivity to light, and nausea and vomiting may also occur. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

Treating an Aneurysm

A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. When an aneurysm ruptures, blood leaks out into the space underneath and around the brain, irritating it and the blood vessels around the brain leading to stroke. The two primary methods of repairing an aneurysm are clipping and coiling.

Aneurysm Clipping

In this procedure, neurosurgeons remove a section of the skull, navigate the brain tissue to the aneurysm, and then place a tiny metal clip to stop blood flow into the aneurysm. This can keep the aneurysm from bursting or it can prevent re-bleeding of an aneurysm that has recently ruptured.

Endovascular Coiling

Until recently, brain aneurysms were most commonly treated through the surgical clipping procedure. Now, in some cases, interventional neurologists, using angiography, can repair the rupture from inside the vessel without open surgery and incisions. During this procedure, tiny wires, or coils, are inserted into the aneurysm, causing a clot that seals it. Studies show that this non-invasive treatment is safer with fewer complications and shortens hospitalization and recovery time. The highly skilled neurosurgeons at SSM Health use the latest technology to repair and treat aneurysms. In addition, our neurosciences team offers a full continuum of care so you can be sure all of your needs are met as you recover. If you’ve been diagnosed with an aneurysm, yet to rupture, and are exploring your surgical options, consider a second opinion from SSM Health Neurosciences to learn how our multidisciplinary team will approach your care.

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