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Brain Aneurysm (Cerebral Aneurysm)

A brain aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of a brain artery. It usually occurs in the age of 50 to 54, and female patients are more than male ones.

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Brain Aneurysm (Cerebral Aneurysm)

What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or ballooning in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to the brain. It often looks like a berry hanging on a stem.

In most cases, a brain aneurysm doesn't cause any symptoms. Such aneurysms are detected in the test for other conditions. In rare cases, a brain aneurysm can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain. Most often a ruptured brain aneurysm occurs in the spaces between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain. The ruptured brain aneurysm called a subarachnoid hemorrhage is life-threatening and needs prompt medical treatment.

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What causes a brain aneurysm?

Exactly what causes a brain aneurysm is still unclear though a number of risk factors have been identified. These include:

◆ Family history. A person may inherit the tendency to form blain aneurysm, if he has a family history of brain aneurysm.

◆ Gender. Women are more likely to develop a brain aneurysm or suffer from subarachnoid hemorrhage than men.

◆ Previous aneurysm. The risk of brain aneurysm is greater in the people with a history of previous aneurysm.

◆ High blood pressure. The person with high blood pressure is at the high risk of this disease.

◆ Many other causes. Headache, smoking, drug abuse, a dilated pupil, change in vision or weakness of one side of the face all can contribute to a brain aneurysm.

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What are the signs and symptoms of brain aneurysm?

Most often the brain aneurysm causes no symptoms and may only be discovered during tests for another condition. In rare cases, the unruptured aneurysm will cause some symptoms by pressing on the areas of the brain. When this happens, the patient will have some symptoms such as severe headache, changes in speech, blurred vision or neck pain. If the brain aneurysm is ruptured, the following symptoms may be likely to occur.

◆ A sudden, severe headache, which is called "the worst headache of their life", is different from past headaches.

◆ Nausea and vomiting.

◆ Changes in vision

◆ Pain and stiffness of the neck.

◆ Loss of consciousness

◆ Seizures.

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How is brain aneurysm diagnosed?

The diagnosis of brain aneurysm usually begins with a high index of suspicion by your doctor, because most of brain aneurysms have no symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have a brain aneurysm, he will do the following tests to detect whether you have this disease.

◆ CT. A computed tomography (CT) scan can help identify bleeding in the brain, and in some instances your doctor will use a lumbar puncture to see whether your brain aneurysm ruptures or not.

◆ CTA. Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) scan is much more precise than CT scan to evaluate blood vessels.

◆ MRA. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body. What's more, it can make the blood vessels show up more clearly.

◆ Cerebral angiogram. It is the best way to locate the small brain aneurysm, because it is the most accurate diagnosed method to brain aneurysm at present.

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How is the usual treatment for brain aneurysm?

Treatment for brain aneurysm aims at repairing the blood vessels, and there are two choices:

◆ Open surgical clipping: A neurosurgeon operates on the brain by cutting open the skull, identifying the damaged blood vessels and putting a clip across the aneurysm, in order to prevent blood from entering the aneurysm and causing further growth or blood leakage. Most elective patients spend 2-3 nights in the hospital and then will go home on light restricted activity for 1-2 months after surgery.

◆ Endovascular "coiling". A neurosurgeon or interventional radiologist can thread a tube through the arteries and fill it with coils of platinum wire or with latex. This prevents further blood from entering the aneurysm. A coiling procedure takes less time to recover from than the clipping.

The patient should accept the correct treatment depending on the size and location of the aneurysm and whether it is ruptured. Both of these two treatments have the risk of damaging the blood vessels or causing some dangers such as severe bleeding, nearby brain tissue damage, surrounding blood vessels going into spasm, etc.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine helps treat brain aneurysm

Most western medicines have a quiet number of side effects, but the patients with severe headache, neck pain or nausea and vomiting may urgently know how to remit their pain. They had better not use the usual pain killers, which may easily cause some complications to the patients. At that time, they can choose traditional Chinese medicine such as some herbal medicines, massage, cupping, etc to help remit their worst headache pain in their life. However, traditional Chinese medicine can't help the patients get rid of brain aneurysm completely only when one of the above treatments is used together.

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