Brain Aneurysms

Semmes-Murphey surgeons are experts in the evaluation and treatment of brain aneurysms. Approximately 250 to 300 patients with aneurysms are seen in our clinic each year.


What is an aneurysm?

Simply put, an aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or ballooning in the wall of a blood vessel.  They can occur in different areas of the body, but Semmes-Murphey specializes in aneurysms located in the brain.


What are the symptoms or warning signs?

In most cases, brain aneurysms do not produce symptoms and are found incidentally on CT or MR images obtained for other reasons (such as for chronic headaches or following traumatic accidents). 

In a minority of cases, patients report experiencing a sudden, severe headache as the reason they seek medical attention.


What is the treatment?

Physicians usually rely on two common treatments when dealing with brain aneurysms:

  • Surgical clipping is a procedure to close off an aneurysm. The neurosurgeon removes a section of your skull to access the aneurysm and locates the blood vessel that feeds the aneurysm. Then he or she places a tiny metal clip on the neck of the aneurysm to stop blood flow to it.
  • Endovascular coiling is a less invasive procedure than surgical clipping. The surgeon inserts a hollow plastic tube (catheter) into an artery, usually in the groin.  He or she then uses a guide wire to push a soft platinum wire through the catheter and into the aneurysm. The wire coils up inside the aneurysm, disrupts the blood flow, and essentially seals off the aneurysm from the inside of the artery.  Endovascular treatment of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms is a rapidly expanding field, and new technologies (in addition to coiling) continue to be developed.

    In all cases, brain aneurysms should be evaluated by an experienced neurosurgeon or neurointerventionalist.  They will make a recommendation based on the size, location, and overall appearance of the brain aneurysm.  Other factors, such as your ability to undergo a procedure, are also considered.


Above is a 3D rendering of an aneurysm before treatment.

Below is an angiogram of an aneurysm post-treatment.

This information was created by the specialists at Semmes Murphey Clinic.  Readers are encouraged to research trustworthy organizations for information.  Please talk with your physician for websites and sources that will enhance your knowledge and understanding of this issue and its treatment. 

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