A brain aneurysm (or cerebral aneurysm) is a weak area on the wall of a brain artery that balloons out and fills with blood. This bulging pocket or sac can put pressure on other parts of the brain, which may or may not cause symptoms. In some cases the weakened blood vessel may burst (rupture or bleed), spreading blood into the surrounding tissue (called a hemorrhage).

Not all brain aneurysms burst or cause symptoms. Approximately 6 million people in the United States (about 1 in 50) are living with an unruptured brain aneurysm. However, nearly one third of those who have a ruptured brain aneurysm will die as a result, and more than half who survive will have some permanent disability.

Overview and Symptoms

We use state-of-the-art imaging technology — invasive and noninvasive — to make the best diagnosis and to guide treatment. These highly sophisticated images can pinpoint the location, type, size and other important information about your aneurysm to help better determine the risks and benefits of therapy.

We are leaders in developing and advancing MRI perfusion imaging, and our neuroradiologists are highly skilled at interpreting the results.

Because our noninvasive imaging is at such a high level, we often can often help you avoid the need for arteriography and its associated risks. Instead, we get diagnostic information from CT or MRI scans. We reserve invasive catheter angiography for patients who are undergoing an endovascular treatment at the same time, or when noninvasive tests show the need for specific information only available from the catheter technique.

Treatment

Our team of experienced specialists works closely together to develop the best treatment plan for your needs. Treatments include the following:

  • Watchful waiting: If an aneurysm has not ruptured, and it is very small (a few millimeters in size), we may recommend watchful waiting, or observation. Conservative management may be the best approach especially for those who are elderly or have other medical conditions that might increase the risks associated with treatment.
  • Surgical treatment: For open surgical treatment of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms, microsurgical clipping is the typical treatment of choice. In rare instances, bypass procedures can be combined with occlusion (closing off) of the aneurysm.
  • Endovascular treatments: Endovascular treatment is an alternative to open surgery that allows for special catheters (tiny tubes) to be worked through tiny blood vessels in the brain without having to cut through the scalp and remove a section of the skull.

Learn More

Our expert team provides comprehensive, state-of-the-art evaluation, diagnosis, operative and endovascular treatment, and follow-up care for adults with a broad range of conditions affecting the nervous system. Our neurosurgeons, neurosurgical nurse practitioners, and other clinical and support staff work together to provide you and your family with comprehensive, well-coordinated care that offers the best possible outcomes.

Neurosurgery