Brain aneurysm

What is a brain (cerebral) aneurysm?

A brain or cerebral aneurysm is where the wall of an artery or blood vessel in the brain is weakened, causing it to swell into a blister-like shape. As aneurysms grow, they put pressure on the surrounding tissue, which can cause a variety of symptoms.

If detected, it is vital to seek immediate medical advice as an aneurysm could rupture at any time. This is known as a brain haemorrhage or haemorrhagic stroke.

Where the wall of an artery or blood vessel in the brain is weakened, it may swell in a blister-like shape and form what is known as a cerebral aneurysm.

What happens when an aneurysm bursts (ruptures)?

As aneurysms grow, symptoms can occur as they put pressure on the surrounding tissue. Sometimes, however, no symptoms will occur. An aneurysm can rupture at any time, causing serious bleeding into the surrounding tissue and damaging the brain. This is called a haemorrhage or haemorrhagic stroke.

How is an aneurysm treated?

Treatment for aneurysm is difficult due to problems accessing parts of the brain, but generally involves surgical clipping, where a section of skull is removed and a clip placed over the neck of the aneurysm to stop blood flowing into it, or coiling, where a series of platinum coils are threaded from the patient's lower body up into the brain aneurysm, filling it with the platinum and stopping blood flow.

Not all treatments are suitable in all cases, and the medical team will be able to advise on this.

My story

"There were no warning signs that something may be wrong,"

On 22 February 2015, 43-year-old Claire Cowlishaw sustained a devastating brain injury following two ruptured aneurysms that would leave her with severe short-term memory problems and challenge her inseparably close relationship with her 18-year-old daughter, Lauren.

Read story