CHI Memorial Stroke and Neuroscience Center offers neurointerventional radiology, the minimally invasive approach to treating vascular diseases of the brain and central nervous system – including brain aneurysms, abnormal blood vessels such as arteriovenous malformation, arteriovenous fistula, and stroke. Using catheter based, image guided systems to treat these complicated and often life threatening health conditions, CHI Memorial now offers a much less invasive alternative to open surgery that carries a much lower risk of complications.
What is brain aneurysm?
A brain or cerebral aneurysm occurs when the weakened wall of a blood vessel balloons or bulges out. This weakening can be caused by trauma, an infection or atherosclerosis, a condition that causes arteries to harden and shrink in size. Brain aneurysms can leak or rupture, causing bleeding in the brain – sometimes requiring quick, lifesaving treatment. Brain aneurysms are sometimes found when imaging tests are performed for other reasons, requiring treatment to prevent a rupture in the future.
Risks and Symptoms
Just like other conditions of the heart and vascular system, the risk factors for brain aneurysm include age, a strong family history, high blood pressure and smoking. Women and people of color also have an increased risk of ruptured aneurysms.
Although not everyone with a brain aneurysm will experience symptoms, they may include:
- Numbness and weakness
- Facial paralysis
- Double vision or vision changes
- Severe headaches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light sensitivity
- Pain behind and above the eye
- Loss of consciousness
Ruptured Aneurysm Treatment
When an aneurysm bursts, it releases blood into the space between the brain and skull, irritating the brain’s lining and damaging brain cells. The brain is also deprived of oxygen-rich blood, resulting in a stroke.
Emergency surgical treatment for a rupture aneurysm may require microsurgical clipping, where a small clip is placed across the neck of an aneurysm to block normal blood flow. Another option is endovascular coiling, a catheter-based treatment that prevents blood flow into the aneurysm.
When an artery is large, inaccessible or its too damaged, bypass surgery may be needed. During the procedure, clips are used to completely block the artery and aneurysm while blood flow is rerouted around the blocked artery and into a nearby artery so blood can flow freely.
CHI Memorial now offers aneurysm, tumor and arteriovenous shunting embolization.
Unruptured Brain Aneurysm Treatment
Brain aneurysms don’t always cause symptoms, and many people can live for years without knowing they have one. The most advanced treatments for unruptured or ruptured aneurysms are the same and include microsurgical clipping and endovascular coiling. Pre-surgical planning and imaging studies will help your surgeon decide the option that’s best for you.
Sometimes treatment for an unruptured aneurysm means careful watching and waiting while reducing your risk of rupture – by stopping smoking, controlling high blood pressure, and making changes to your diet and exercise habits.
Treatment for Arteriovenous Malformation
Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a congenital defect of the vascular system that causes a tangle of abnormal blood vessels to impact blood flow from the heart to other areas of the body. When AVMs occur in the brain, they cause the brain to bypass normal tissue and divert blood from the arteries to the veins.
Brain and spinal AVMs can occur anywhere within the brain or on its covering and present substantial risks when they bleed. These include bleeding in the brain, stroke or brain damage. Most people do not know they have an AVM until a medical emergency occurs or it’s identified by a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan.
The most common treatment for AVM is surgery. This can be done through microsurgical techniques, radiosurgery or endovascular embolization.
CHI Memorial Stroke and Neuroscience Center offers advanced neurosurgical and neurointerventional treatment for AVMs and many other neurovascular issues. For more information, call (423) 206-4140.