An aneurysm is a weak area in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to the brain.  This weakness causes a bulging or ballooning out of the artery wall.   If the aneurysm ruptures the blood will spill out of the artery into the brain and /or space around the brain called the subarachnoid space.  This rupturing is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage and depending on severity may lead to brain damage or death.  Most ruptures happen in the base of the brain called the Circle of Willis.

Risk factors

Generally an aneurysm is caused by genetics and/or hardening of the arterial walls (atherosclerosis). Risk factors that may increase your likely hood of developing an aneurysm and/or rupturing an existing one include:

  • Family history
  • High bood pressure
  • Previous aneurysm
  • Race
  • smoking


Often an individual with an un-ruptured aneurysm is unaware they have an aneurysm as they have no symptoms.   If  however the aneurysm presses on certain areas of the brain or nerves, then patient my experience one or more of these symptoms depending on which area of the brain is affected.  The onset is generally sudden:

  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in speech
  • Neck pain
  • Severe headaches

If you suspect you or someone you know is having an aneurysm call 911 immediately.


Not all aneurysms require surgery.  Your neurosurgeon will assess the probability of the aneurysm rupturing, family history, overall health and location of the aneurysm to determine the best treatment for the individual patient.

Surgical treatment


References: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, National Stroke Association.

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