Most people who have an aneurysm will not have any symptoms until it bursts or puts pressure on the surrounding brain tissue.
The most common way for someone to find out that they have an aneurysm is for it to bleed. When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause sudden symptoms.
Call 911 immediately if you experience:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Other symptoms may include: sensitivity to light, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting.
Unruptured aneurysms (that do not bleed) rarely cause symptoms other than headaches. Since aneurysms are typically small in size, usually only one half inch in diameter, symptoms are less likely to occur. However, larger aneurysms can press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and result in double vision, weakness, numbness, seizures and difficulty speaking.
Most brain aneurysms don't show symptoms until they either become very large or rupture. An unruptured aneurysm may be identified if a patient had a brain scan for another reason.
When a brain aneurysm ruptures, the bleeding can be minimal, moderate or severe. A person's physical response to the hemorrhage will most often be related to the amount of blood that escapes from the aneurysm and around the brain. The initial evaluation of the aneurysm will typically occur in the emergency room following symptoms of a severe headache.
Our emergency care doctors are adept at accessing computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as well as the latest advanced monitoring tools, including biplane brain angiography. We have ranked consistently faster than the national average in obtaining CT images of the brain—averaging only five minutes from a patient's arrival in the emergency department.
Once you've been diagnosed with an aneurysm your neurologist or family practitioner may refer you to a neurosurgeon.
Questions to ask a neurosurgeon:
- How many surgeries do you perform a year?
- What are your outcome statistics?
- Do you specialize in only brain aneurysms?
A neurosurgeon who performs only a dozen brain aneurysm surgeries a year does not have the same level of experience as one who performs 150 aneurysm operations a year. Be your own advocate and ask questions.
Diagnosis support for patients & caregivers
Following diagnosis, we discuss the condition in detail with the patient and caregivers. The discussion includes surgical terms and technical treatment options. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when faced with unfamiliar medical language. We want you to be as educated as possible and encourage you to ask any questions you have.
We offer family care conferences and support groups to encourage ongoing discussion and emotional support. They can also ease concerns and help patients and caregivers adapt to the course of treatment and ultimate recovery.
Family care conference
A family care conference gives those involved the opportunity to have all questions answered. A patient's condition could begin to change and important decisions will have to be made quickly and collectively. In this instance, our multidisciplinary team will facilitate the meeting, and everyone, including the patient and caregiver, will work together to determine next steps.
Support groups are held for patients' family members and are led by an advanced practice nurse and/or social worker. The groups give family members much-needed time to ask questions and decompress. We encourage you to write down questions and concerns to bring to the weekly meetings.
Join our Brain Aneurysm Support Group
We understand that even with the best medical care, people still need a great deal of support. To assist our patients who have been diagnosed with a brain condition, we offer the following support groups.