A cerebral or brain aneurysm (intracranial aneurysm) is a ballooning-out of the wall of an artery in the brain that, when large enough, may apply pressure to a nerve or surrounding brain tissue, or hemorrhage and result in stroke. Aneurysms may result from congenital defects, preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries), or head trauma. Cerebral aneurysms occur more commonly in adults than in children but they may occur at any age. Emory neurosurgeons manage one of the largest volumes of intracranial aneurysm cases in the United States.

Diagnosing Cerebral Aneurysms

Diagnosis of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm is commonly made by finding signs of subarachnoid hemorrhage on a CT scan (Computerized Tomography, sometimes called a CAT scan). The CT scan is a computerized test that rapidly X-rays the body in cross-sections, or slices, as the body is moved through a large, circular machine. If the CT scan is negative but a ruptured aneurysm is still suspected, a lumbar puncture is performed to detect blood in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Treating Cerebral Aneurysm

The traditional surgical method to treat cerebral aneurysms is to close them off with a clip to restore blood flow through the artery. However, Emory neurosurgeons have played an important role nationally in refining a less invasive treatment for cerebral aneurysms: endovascular coiling, which involves placing small, platinum coils in the aneurysm to cut off blood flow. Approximately 300 aneurysms each year are treated with endovascular coiling at Emory University Hospital, which places Emory first nationally in offering this innovative procedure with demonstrated efficacy, particularly for patients with ruptured aneurysms.

Treatment for Brain Aneurysms is a specialty of Emory Neurosurgery, and involves a multidisciplinary physician team, state-of-the-art technology and the highest quality patient care.