Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

3 Treatments For Brain Aneurysms

by Caitlin Obara

Brain aneurysms are a life-threatening medical condition because they can happen without warning and often lead to irreparable damage within seconds. When a brain aneurysm is a haphazard finding or ruptures and leaks slowly, several procedures can be used to treat the condition and possibly minimize brain damage.

Endovascular Approach

The treatment options available may depend on the urgency of the problem and location within the brain. Some patients may have the opportunity to undergo an endovascular approach to correct their aneurysm, especially when the aneurysm has not ruptured or there is not the immediate threat of rupture. With this method a catheter is used to guide a small coil into the brain via the femoral artery.

Visualization during the procedure is accomplished with fluoroscopy to see real-time movement of the coil. Once the coil arrives inside the aneurysm, it is left in place and the catheter is removed. The coil acts as a plug, which prevents blood from traveling through the aneurysm, and eventually a blood clot will form. Since the procedure eliminates blood flow in the vessel, it can only be used when an aneurysm occurs in part of the brain with redundant blood flow.

Microsurgical Clipping

Microsurgical clipping is commonly used to treat brain aneurysms. The procedure involves extensive surgery, which includes removal of part of the skull to access the brain and gently moving brain tissue aside to reach the aneurysm. Some aneurysms can be especially difficult to access if they are deep within the brain. Once the aneurysm is visualized, it is simply clamped with a metal clip to prevent blood from flowing in that area. Much like the endovascular approach, this can only be accomplished if the aneurysm occurs in an area of the brain with more than one source of blood flow.

Bypass Graft

When an aneurysm is more complicated to treat, a bypass graft may be used. A small blood vessel is removed from another part of the body, usually the legs, and used to reroute blood around the aneurysm. Bypass grafts are often necessary when aneurysms occur in major blood vessels of the brain. The procedure is also performed in conjunction with methods to occlude the aneurysm. During the bypass procedure, the graft is placed first to maintain blood flow to the brain before the aneurysm is occluded. Once the blood vessel is blocked, blood is forced to take a new path through the bypass.

Brain aneurysms are a life-threatening medical condition requiring prompt attention. When the problem is caught early there are several methods to prevent rupture of the aneurysm and possibly prevent significant brain damage. For more information, talk to a doctor like Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D.