Learning you have a brain aneurysm can be concerning. The Cerebrovascular Center
at UF Health Jacksonville understands this and is committed to supporting you throughout
the treatment process.
A brain aneurysm, also called a cerebral aneurysm, is an abnormal bulge or ballooning
of the arterial wall. This dilation can grow over time and may rupture, spilling
blood around the brain, which can be life threatening. A brain aneurysm can occur
at any age. Some brain aneurysms are associated with certain inherited disorders
including certain types of genetic connective tissue disorders and polycystic kidney
disease. Some brain aneurysms are found in families generally affecting first-degree
family members (child, sibling or parent). Some of the risk factors for developing
a brain aneurysm or causing an aneurysm to increase in size and susceptibility for
rupture include untreated high blood pressure, cigarette smoking and drug use.
Brain aneurysms are frequently detected on imaging during a medical evaluation for
another condition. The most common imaging study to identify a brain aneurysm is
a CT angiography or MR angiography. These studies are used to look specifically
at the vessels.
You may need a procedure called a Cerebral Angiogram, also known as digital subtraction
angiography (DSA), to further evaluate you and help determine the type of treatment.
This minimally invasive sterile procedure is performed using fluoroscopy (live X-Ray).
A small tube called a catheter is used to access the femoral artery located in the
groin. The catheter is advanced over a guidewire to select vessels through which
contrast is injected to obtain images.
Brian aneurysms typically do not have any symptoms unless they rupture or are large
enough to press on tissues or nerves. If an aneurysm causes symptoms from size and
location typical symptoms experienced may include eye symptoms such as a dilated
pupil, trouble with eye movement, bulging of the eye, redness and irritation of
the eye or vision changes. Some large aneurysms can cause numbness, weakness or
A ruptured brain aneurysm will cause a severe headache. This headache is often described
as the worst headache of one’s life. Additional symptoms include possible loss of
consciousness, seizures, nausea/vomiting. A ruptured aneurysm is a life threatening
emergency requiring immediate medical attention.
Treatment for an unruptured brain aneurysm is decided by multiple factors based on
relevant research. Many unruptured aneurysms do not require treatment and can be
monitored with serial imaging and close follow up. Aneurysms that require treatment
are typically larger in size, have an irregular shape or are located in a higher
risk vessel. The patient’s age, overall health and risk of treatment are also taken
Treatment options for your brain aneurysm will be discussed during your visit. Most
brain aneurysms are treated using endovascular treatment techniques however open
surgery may also be discussed as a preferred option.
Endovascular treatments are performed from within the vessel, typically accessed
at the femoral artery located at the groin or radial artery at the wrist from which
catheters are advanced over a small wire to the aneurysm. This method of treatment
will require follow up procedures to ensure the aneurysm has no further blood flow.
Methods of endovascular aneurysm treatment include:
- Coil embolization. Tiny spirals of platinum wire are placed into the aneurysm blocking
the flow of blood to the aneurysm.
- Flow diversion devices. A special stent like device is placed within the parent
vessel across the neck of the aneurysm. The stent diverts the flow of blood away
from the aneurysm. Over time the aneurysm will form a blood clot inside effectively
eliminating all blood flow to the aneurysm.
An open surgery may be the treatment of choice for your aneurysm depending on the
size, location and position of normal blood vessels in relation to the aneurysm.
- Microvascular clipping. This procedure requires a craniotomy – opening of the skull
followed by careful microsurgical dissection using microscope along the brain tissue,
finding the aneurysm and placing a titanium clip at the base of the aneurysm to
separate it from parent vessel and blood supply. This method has typically longer
hospital stay and recovery time but is usually more permanent treatment compared
to endovascular methods.