Brain Aneurysm Symptoms


A brain aneurysm, also called a cerebral aneurysm or intracranial aneurysm, is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery in the brain. Because of the weakened spot in the artery wall, there is a risk that it will rupture. A ruptured aneurysm causes bleeding into the brain, known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which can be life-threatening and needs emergency medical treatment with brain aneurysm surgery. When an artery bleeds into the brain, it not only deprives brain cells and tissue of needed oxygen, it also causes pressure to build up in surrounding tissues, along with swelling and irritation, leading to various brain aneurysm symptoms.

Brain aneurysm symptoms often do not appear until an aneurysm ruptures. However, sometimes patients have symptoms prior to an actual rupture due to a small amount of blood leaking into the brain. Also, brain aneurysm symptoms can occur if the aneurysm presses on adjacent structures, such as the optic nerves. In this case, the patient can experience symptoms such as a loss of vision or double vision even if the aneurysm has not ruptured.

Brain aneurysm symptoms that may occur, particularly with a ruptured aneurysm, include:

  • sudden, severe headache with nausea or vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • confusion or drowsiness
  • eye pain, dilated pupils, sensitivity to light
  • loss of balance or muscle weakness
  • speech impairment
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness

Treatment for brain aneurysm depends upon the patient's age and overall health, the extent of the condition, the specific brain aneurysm symptoms, the patient's tolerance for medications, and personal preferences. While emergency surgery is required in the case of a ruptured aneurysm, small aneurysms may not require immediate treatment.

Brigham and Women's Hospital provides specialized therapeutic and emergency care for patients with brain aneurysm symptoms and ruptured brain aneurysms.

Brain Aneurysm Endovascular Coiling Procedure:
This animation demonstrates a brain aneurysm treatment by inserting coils into the aneurysm both without and with the assistance of a stent to block the blood flow into the aneurysm, but still allow blood to flow in the regular blood vessels. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a neurosurgeon/neuro-interventionalist will gain access to the vessels through the femoral artery. In the animation, the first brain aneurysm procedure is without a stent. The second procedure inserts coiling with the assistance of a stent. (This animation does not have sound.)


Brain Aneurysm Flow Diversion Stent Procedure:
This animation demonstrates a flow diversion, which is one type of endovascular technique to treating brain aneurysms. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which catheters are inserted into the femoral artery and are brought all the way up into the vessels of the brain near the aneurysm. A flow diverting stent is laid across the neck or opening of the brain aneurysm. The stent slows blood flow into the aneurysm, causing it to clot off and shrink. Overtime, the body accumulates a layer of cells over the stent and it becomes a permanent part of the blood vessel. (This animation does not have sound.)

Brigham and Women's Hospital: comprehensive treatment of brain aneurysm symptoms

Our expert neurosurgery specialists in the Department of Neurosurgery deliver state-of-the-art treatment through many innovative techniques to improve outcomes for our neurosurgery patients, including those with brain aneurysm symptoms or actual rupture. Our Boston neurosurgery team provides timely, patient-centered care at our Boston campus as well as at our community hospitals, Brigham and Women's Hospital-Mass. General Hospital Health Care Center at Foxborough, and 850 Boylston in Newton. Our expert neurosurgeons treat patients with all types of neurological disorders, including performing various brain surgery procedures as part of stroke treatment or brain cancer treatment.

For patients seeking treatment for brain aneurysm symptoms, our expert Boston neurosurgeons in the Department of Neurosurgery deliver state-of-the-art treatment and care via many revolutionary techniques to improve outcomes for our patients, such as stereotactic radiosurgery to treat abnormalities in the veins and arteries, called arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which can rupture and cause stroke.

Learn more about Brain Aneurysm Symptoms and Treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH