Brain Aneurysm Causes and Treatment

Hirad S. Hedayat, MD, neurosurgeon, explains what an aneurysm is and who is at risk of having a brain aneurysm. Dr. Hedayat also discusses aneurysm monitoring and treating brain aneurysms, as well as the benefits of being treated at our Neurosciences Institute.

Brain aneurysms affect 3% percent of Americans and usually don't have symptoms until they become large or rupture. If they rupture, they quickly become life-threatening and need emergency medical attention.

What Is a Brain Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm is where there is a thinning that forms on the blood vessel wall of vessels in the brain, and over time that can gradually enlarge like a water balloon and can certainly get to a point where it ruptures or pops.

Who Is at Risk for a Brain Aneurysm?

Brain aneurysms can occur more frequently with age, so factors with like high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol can certainly encourage aneurysms to grow — especially smoking. And there are some instances where it runs in a family, so there is some genetic component to it — but that's pretty subtle.

Brain Aneurysm Treatment Options

There are a lot of different ways to take care of brain aneurysms. One of which is just to monitor them. Very often we will get regular imaging to keep an eye on the aneurysm. When it's time to take care of an aneurysm, we can approach from the inside of the blood vessel and go into the aneurysm and fill it with metal. That's an embolization procedure that causes a clot to form and block the aneurysm from getting larger.

We can also make an incision on the scalp and go from the outside to the aneurysm and put a device like a clothespin on the aneurysm that will pinch it shut. That's called microsurgical clipping. So, you see we offer the full gamut of treatment.

Benefits Treatment at the Froedtert & MCW Neurosciences Institute

At centers that have a higher volume or have more experience, like the Froedtert & MCW health network, we take care of aneurysms day in and day out with high volumes. That means we have a lot of experience taken care of both simple and complex aneurysms.