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Aneurysm (Brain) (cont.)

What are the signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm?

Most brain aneurysms do not cause any signs or symptoms and are discovered during tests for another condition. Symptoms develop rapidly when an aneurysm ruptures, and in some cases symptoms can be caused by pressure from an unruptured anuerysm. The signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm are variable and occasionally relate to the area of the brain that is affected. However, the most common symptom of a ruptured brain aneurysm is headache and is characterized by the patient describing the headache as “the worst headache of my life.” However, some patients don't report headache as a symptom. The following is a list of possible symptoms that are seen in patients with a brain aneurysm:

  • visual defects
  • facial pain
  • focal neurological complaints
  • seizures
  • passing out or fainting
  • confusion or mental impairment
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • cardiac dysrhythmias
  • neck pain or stiffness
  • photophobia
  • trouble breathing
  • nosebleeds
  • dilated pupils
  • stroke-like symptoms (loss of speech, loss of sense of smell, paralysis of muscles on one side of the body, or other movement defects)

How is a brain aneurysm diagnosed?

In most instances, the diagnosis of a brain aneurysm is made by CT scan and/or MRI imaging studies of the brain. These tests help identify and localize the brain aneurysm. Other tests such as a cerebral angiogram and/or a cerebrospinal fluid analysis may also be used to help determine the diagnosis. In addition, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) may be used to examine blood flow within the brain. Laboratory tests that are almost always ordered are a complete blood cell count (CBC), prothrombin time (PT), activated partial thromboplastin time (a PTT), serum chemistries, liver function tests, and arterial blood gases. These tests help determine if the patient is anemic and/or prone to bleeding and help determine if the patient's blood is getting appropriate oxygenation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2016

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