Health in Focus: Brain Aneurysm

An aneurysm happens when arteries get weakened and bulge in one spot.

They are commonly found in the heart, brain, back of the knee, intestine and spleen.

For this week’s Health in Focus, Dr. Jay Jagannathan, with Jagannathan Neurosurgery, breaks down the signs, symptoms and options people have with a brain aneurism.

He says brain aneurysms that haven’t ruptured are probably more common than people think.

“Usually those are diagnosed by symptoms such as headaches, or they just aren’t feeling right,” he says. “Sometimes they push on nerves that help with vision and other parts of the brain. Those can be diagnosed.”

But when these pockets of blood in the brain rupture, they can turn lethal.

Jagannathan says rupture of a brain aneurysm is a medical emergency, and can exhibit stroke-like symptoms.

“The classic symptom of a ruptured aneurysm is when someone complains of the worst headache of their life,” he says. “It is called a thunder clap headache, where you are feeling all right and suddenly the headache comes on. Normally the recommendation is to go to the emergency room. The gold standard for diagnosis is a CT scan, which will show you if there’s is blood.”

There are three general treatment options for aneurysms.

In the case of a small aneurysm, they can be observed and may not undergo further treatment.

“A lot of time aneurysms are found accidentally and they don’t necessarily need to be treated, just observation and that is especially the case with extremely small aneurysms and nerves that may be in a very delicate location,” Jagannathan says.

The more traditional treatment option is called “clipping.” This brain surgery procedure puts a clip across the neck of an aneurysm.

“That is said to be the most durable option, because once you put the clip across the aneurysm the aneurysm is fully treated in many cases,” Jagannathan says.

And the third treatment option is increasing in popularity, he says.

“You go through the blood vessel, so it does require an open surgery, but where you put coils in the aneurysm that eventually clot off and obliterate the aneurysm,” Jagannathan says. “But there is a risk that an aneurysm rupture during the period where it is not fully clotted off.”

For more health information, contact Jagannathan Neurosurgery for neurosurgery, neurology and interventional pain management.

Northern Michigan: 989-701-2538

Upper Peninsula: 906-253-1341

Southeast Michigan: 248-792-6527

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