Brain aneurysm is bulging or ballooning of a blood vessel supplying the brain. Brain aneurysms are present in 1 to 2% of population. The commonest age group affected is 40-60 years.
Brain aneurysms can cause non-specific neurological symptoms such as headaches, double vision, etc. The most serious complication is bursting or rupture of the aneurysm that leads to severe sudden episode of headache and immediate death in up to 20% of affected patients. In the remaining affected population, it leads to serious haemorrhagic stroke that is potentially debilitating.
What are the risk factors of getting an aneurysm?
There are not fully understood yet. Some of the known risk factors include:
Family history, Smoking, Hypertension, Polycystic kidney disease, Age over 50 years.
How do we diagnose a brain aneurysm?
Simple CT scan with dye injected in the arm or MRI scan without dye injection in the arm is all that is needed to diagnose a brain aneurysm and plan treatment.
Brain aneurysm is a treatable condition. The best time to treat is before it ruptures. Traditional treatment method of open surgery called clipping is largely replaced in majority of patients with minimally invasive endovascular technique called coiling. This technique involves a 5 mm incision in the groin to get into a blood vessel. Through this, multiple small tubes called catheters and wires are advanced into the brain and the aneurysm is completely blocked from inside. No open surgery to skull is required with quicker treatment and recovery.
What is the latest in treating brain aneurysms?
- Majority of patients are able to walk home within 1-2 days of treatment of an elective un-ruptured brain aneurysm.
- There are newer technologies available for treating brain aneurysms. These enable us to treat almost all types of brain aneurysms using interventional techniques without resorting to open surgery. These include advanced techniques of balloon assisted coiling and stent assisted coiling
- Flow diverters: these are stent type devices that are placed across the neck of the aneurysm enabling gradual occlusion of the aneurysms while preserving flow in normal branches to the brain. These devices are extremely useful in treating all types of aneurysms including those with complex and challenging anatomy
- Newer devices are constantly being introduced in practice that would result in better treatment outcomes for patients in future