What is a cerebral aneurysm?
A cerebral (in the brain) aneurysm (AN-yoo-riz-um) is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. The bulge often occurs at a weak place in the inner muscular layer of the vessel’s wall. It can leak blood or break open and cause bleeding into the brain, producing a hemorrhagic stroke. Most aneurysms don’t rupture or cause symptoms. However, if it breaks, this is a life-threatening medical emergency. Treatment of an unruptured aneurysm may prevent a future rupture and stroke.
The reason that aneurysms develop, grow and rupture is not known. Certain risk factors make them more likely to rupture. Aneurysms most commonly develop at the base of the brain just inside the skull, called the subarachnoid space. If they rupture in this location it can cause a subarachnoid hemorrhage and stroke. Aneurysms can range in size from an eighth of an inch in diameter to an inch. If they’re larger than an inch, they can be very dangerous and hard to treat.
Why should I worry about a cerebral aneurysm?
Because a ruptured aneurysm can cause a stroke, permanent brain damage, physical disability and even death. You have a 20% chance of having one or more aneurysms after the first aneurysm.