Brain Aneurysm - Topic Overview
How is a brain aneurysm diagnosed?
Because unruptured brain aneurysms often do not
cause any symptoms, many are discovered in people who are being treated for a
If your doctor believes that you
have a brain aneurysm, you may have the following tests:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan
can help identify bleeding in the brain. Sometimes a
lumbar puncture may be used if your doctor suspects that you have a ruptured cerebral aneurysm with a
- Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) scan. CTA is a more precise method of
evaluating blood vessels than a standard
CT scan. CTA uses a combination of CT scanning,
special computer techniques, and
contrast material (dye) injected into the blood to
produce images of blood vessels.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Similar to a CTA,
MRA uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave
energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body. As with CTA and
cerebral angiography, a dye is often used during MRA to make blood vessels show
up more clearly.
- Cerebral angiogram. During
this X-ray test, a catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in the groin or
arm and moved up through the vessel into the brain. A dye is then injected into
the cerebral artery. As with the above tests, the dye allows any problems in
the artery, including aneurysms, to be seen on the X-ray. Although this test is
more invasive and carries more risk than the above tests, it is the best way to
locate small (less than 5 mm) brain aneurysms.
How is it treated?
Your doctor will think about several things before
deciding the best treatment for you. Things that will determine the type of
treatment you receive include your age, size of the aneurysm, any additional
risk factors, and your overall health.
Because the risk of a
small (less than 10 mm) aneurysm rupturing is low and surgery for a brain
aneurysm is often risky, your doctor may want to continue to
observe your condition rather than do surgery. If your aneurysm
is large or causing pain or other symptoms, though, or if you have had a previous
ruptured aneurysm, your doctor may recommend surgery.