Symptoms of Brain Aneurysms
Ruptured Cerebral Aneurysm Symptoms
Sometimes patients describing "the worst headache in my life" are actually experiencing one of the symptoms of brain aneurysms related to having a rupture. Other ruptured cerebral aneurysm symptoms include:
* Nausea and vomiting
* Stiff neck or neck pain
* Blurred vision or double vision
* Pain above and behind the eye
* Dilated pupils
* Sensitivity to light
* Loss of sensation
Unruptured Cerebral Aneurysm Symptoms
Before an aneurysm ruptures, patients often experience no symptoms of brain aneurysms. In about 40 percent of cases, people with unruptured aneurysms will experience some or all of the following cerebral aneurysm symptoms:
* Peripheral vision deficits
* Thinking or processing problems
* Speech complications
* Perceptual problems
* Sudden changes in behavior
* Loss of balance and coordination
* Decreased concentration
* Short-term memory difficulty
Because the symptoms of brain aneurysms can also be associated with other medical conditions, diagnostic neuroradiology is regularly used to identify both ruptured and unruptured brain aneurysms.
Diagnosis of Brain 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.
To determine the exact location, size and shape of an aneurysm (ruptured or unruptured), neuroradiologists will use either cerebral angiography or tomographic angiography.
Cerebral angiography, the traditional method, involves introducing a catheter (small plastic tube) into an artery (usually in the leg) and steering it through the blood vessels of the body to the artery involved by the aneurysm. A special dye, called a contract agent, is injected into the patient's artery and its distribution is shown on X-ray projections. This method may not detect some aneurysms due to overlapping structures or spasm.
Computed Tomographic Angiography (CTA) is an alternative to the traditional method and can be performed without the need for arterial catheterization. This test combines a regular CT scan with a contrast dye injected into a vein. Once the dye is injected into a vein, it travels to the brain arteries, and images are created using a CT scan. These images show exactly how blood flows into the brain arteries.