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Managing unruptured brain aneurysm

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RapidAI is proud to partner with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to help educate the public about understanding the signs of a brain aneurysm and how medical teams are detecting and treating brain aneurysms with technological advancements. 

While a brain aneurysm could be a potential problem, not all aneurysms rupture. An estimated 6.5 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, while 30,000 aneurysm ruptures occur each year.

A brain aneurysm will develop without warning, often due to artery damage over an individual’s lifetime. Severe trauma or infection can lead to a brain aneurysm developing in some situations. Cigarette smoking and high blood pressure are two of the most significant risk factors for a brain aneurysm developing.

What is a brain aneurysm?

brain aneurysm is caused by a weak or thin spot in the blood vessel wall, which may balloon and fill with blood. Brain aneurysms that have not ruptured are usually asymptomatic. They are typically small and are incidentally detected when a patient is scanned for other reasons. 

While prompt brain aneurysm treatment is recommended, often unruptured aneurysms will have no symptoms warning you to seek help. Getting prompt medical attention and a scan is vital if you do experience symptoms of an unruptured brain aneurysm.

In rare circumstances, unruptured brain aneurysms can cause symptoms when they grow large and press on nerves. These symptoms of an unruptured brain aneurysm include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • A drooping eyelid
  • A dilated pupil
  • Pain above and behind one eye
  • Weakness and/or numbness

Individuals experiencing a sudden severe headache (often referred to as the "worst headache" of their life) should seek medical attention immediately, as this could point to ruptured brain aneurysms.

When is it a ruptured brain aneurysm?

If an aneurysm rupture occurs, a serious kind of stroke called a subarachnoid hemorrhage happens, causing blood to spill into the space between the brain and the skull. Due to the reduction in blood flow to the brain, a medical event such a significant rupture can be life-threatening. 

Most commonly, brain aneurysms cause noticeable symptoms only when they rupture. A ruptured brain aneurysm can lead to heavy bleeding, brain damage or death.

Detecting and tracking brain aneurysms before they rupture 

If you notice the symptoms outlined above, and certain risk factors apply to you, go to the hospital and ask the physician about getting a brain scan to rule out the possibility of an aneurysm.

A brain scan is a test that produces detailed images of the brain. In this case, it would help investigate whether you have an unruptured brain aneurysm and determine its size, location and morphology to help guide potential treatment or monitoring options.

If the physician detects an unruptured aneurysm, they will evaluate whether to track the aneurysm over time or treat the aneurysm. Decisions around treating most aneurysms that have not ruptured will be specific to the patient.

Some of the factors that help make the decision include: 

  • Size of the aneurysm
  • Morphology of the aneurysm
  • Location of the aneurysm
  • Previous aneurysm rupture
  • Family history of aneurysms
  • Growth of the aneurysm (as observed over time through scans to monitor the aneurysm)

If the physician decides to track the aneurysm, regular check-ups to monitor the aneurysm will be recommended.

FDA-cleared imaging platform for unruptured aneurysm visualization and measurement

Image interpretation tools like Rapid Aneurysm are helping physicians improve patient care by supporting clinical decision-making for brain aneurysms. Rapid Aneurysm processes brain images and provides 3D models of the blood vessels. It includes tools to visualize, measure, and track aneurysms more efficiently than current methods, and helps physicians plan the enraptured aneurysm treatment strategy. 

Rapid Aneurysm's measurement and visualization tools can help you understand your potential cerebral aneurysm diagnosis, collaborate with your physician, and be informed and involved when deciding the treatment plan.  

Learn more about brain aneurysms, symptoms, and risk factors by visiting Brain Aneurysm Foundation (bafound.org). You can also participate in the Brain Aneurysm Foundation's Day of Engagement on September 15, 2022, and help promote the early detection of brain aneurysms. 

Christine J. Buckley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine J. Buckley

Christine J. Buckley is the Executive Director of the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Her most prized accomplishment at the foundation has been the establishment of the research grant program which has awarded over $4,000,000 in the last 15 years. She also set up the foundation’s first major fundraiser 20 years ago that continues to raise $100,000 each year. Christine graduated from Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts in 1990.