Brain Aneurysm

MaineHealth provides rapid response, evaluation and treatment for patients with brain aneurysms and other serious brain conditions.

What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is a weak spot in a blood vessel to the brain. A brain aneurysm most often has no symptoms, and people do not know they have it. Some brain aneurysms that have not ruptured cause symptoms, however a person may have a brain aneurysm his or her entire life that never causes a problem.

A brain aneurysm can leak or break open, sending blood into the skull. Blood goes into the space around the brain. When this happens patients generally have headache, loss of consciousness, or other symptoms.

Who is at risk for a brain aneurysm?

Some people are at high risk of having a brain aneurysm. Risks include:

  • Family history of brain aneurysm
  • History of polycystic kidney disease
  • History of collagen vascular disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure

Brain aneurysm warning signs

People usually have no symptoms of a brain aneurysm. But large aneurysms that have not ruptured can push on the brain or on nerves. This causes symptoms:

  • Headache, especially sever headache
  • Vision changes
  • Seeing double
  • Drooping eyelid or dilated pupil on one side
  • Pain above or behind the eye
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Problems speaking

Know brain aneurysm symptoms, and get help right away

When a brain aneurysm leaks or breaks open, symptoms happen fast. Call 911. Get medical care right away if you are having any of these brain aneurysm symptoms:

  • Sudden headache that is different from other headaches
  • Loss of consciousness or passing out with a severe headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sudden trouble thinking or walking
  • Seizures (convulsions)
  • Drooping eyelid

Diagnosing brain aneurysm

Different screening tests can tell if you have a brain aneurysm, even if it has not ruptured and there are no symptoms. In general healthy people with no symptoms do not need to be screened for brain aneurysm; however people with close family members with aneurysm or certain genetic syndromes should discuss screening with their doctor. Screening tests include:

  • CT scan
  • CTA scan
  • MRA
  • Cerebral angiogram

Brain aneurysm treatment

  • Treating an unruptured brain aneurysm includes medication to control blood pressure and surgical and endovascular procedures to keep the brain aneurysm from leaking or breaking open.
  • A ruptured brain aneurysm is treated with medication for blood pressure, surgery or endovascular repair, and monitoring in the Neurologic Intensive Care Unit.
  • If you think you have a ruptured brain aneurysm call 911. Emergency medical care is needed right away when a brain aneurysm ruptures.