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An aneurysm is a ballooning out of the wall of an artery, vein, or the heart that is caused by a weakening in the wall tissue usually due to disease. However, they can also be caused by an injury or may be present at birth. Brain aneurysms occur when the wall of a blood vessel weakens in the brain. This may occur at birth as a defect or it may develop later in life.

A small aneurysm may not always cause harm. Once it’s detected, the patient’s doctor will monitor it on a regular basis to see if it increases in size. The larger an aneurysm becomes, the more likely it is to burst. Although aneurysms are not always life-threatening—if an aneurysm of the brain ruptures, a stroke can result.

Although there are several types of aneurysms, aortic and brain aneurysms are the most common.

• Aortic aneurysms are found in the main artery leading away from the heart. The wall of the artery becomes weakened by atherosclerosis or by a hereditary disease. Surgical treatment is most often used by sewing a patch or an artificial blood vessel over the aneurysm.

• Brain aneurysm treatment is determined by whether or not the aneurysm has burst. In the case of a ruptured aneurysm, it can be handled surgically or non-surgically. “Direct clipping” is one form of surgical treatment where a clip is inserted at the base of the artery. This will help stop the flow of blood and allow it to clot. This procedure helps the aneurysm shrink before it is removed.

One non-surgical treatment option is called “micro-coiling.” This procedure involves a flexible tube being inserted into the artery through a catheter to remove the aneurysm.

As always, a doctor’s diagnosis will help determine the best treatment option for you.

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