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Unruptured Brain Aneurysms

What is an unruptured brain aneurysm?

Unruptured aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery, resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning. Because there is a weakened spot in the artery wall, there is a risk for rupture (bursting) of the aneurysm. An unruptured aneurysm, therefore, is an aneurysm that has not yet ruptured.

The presence of an aneurysm may not be known until too late: when it ruptures. However, occasionally there may be symptoms that occur prior to an actual rupture due to a small amount of blood that may leak, called "warning leaks," into the brain.

Symptoms of an unruptured brain aneurysm:

The symptoms of an unruptured aneurysm include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • eye pain
  • vision deficits (problems with seeing)
  • double or blurry vision
  • seizures

The symptoms of an aneurysm may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Diagnosis of an unruptured brain aneurysm:

Most unruptured aneurysms are discovered incidentally during routine imaging of the brain, such as an MRI or CT scan (see Diagnosis of a Brain Aneurysm). A person with a family history of brain aneurysms would be encouraged to have screening performed, at which point an unruptured aneurysm might be found. Additionally, some persons might be prompted to have imaging performed due to the onset of other neurological symptoms, such as headaches or visual disturbances.

Many unruptured brain aneurysms are found due to neurological symptoms caused by the size of the aneurysm. Some aneurysms are quite large in size and may push on a nerve in the brain. Called the “mass effect,” the aneurysm may cause neurological symptoms such as blurring of vision, headaches, and more, prior to bleeding.

Treatment for an unruptured brain aneurysm:

Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your signs and symptoms
  • your tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment options for an unruptured aneurysm may include one or more of the following:

Treatment for an unruptured aneurysm is tailored to the individual patient based on examination and findings by a multi-disciplinary team of physicians. This unique collaboration allows doctors at Johns Hopkins to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that considers the whole patient.

For more information, contact the Johns Hopkins Cerebrovascular Center at 410-955-2228.


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