Aneurysm in the brain: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

Aneurysms usually cause no symptoms unless they rupture and cause bleeding into the brain. Often, an aneurysm is found when a CT scan or MRI is performed for another reason. Symptoms occur if the aneurysm pushes on nearby structures in the brain.

Symptoms depend on what structure the aneurysm pushes on, but may include:

* Double vision
* Loss of vision
* Headaches
* Eye pain
* Neck pain

A sudden, severe headache (often described as “the worst headache of your life”) is one symptom that an aneurysm has ruptured. Other symptoms of an aneurysm rupture may include:

* Confusion, lethargy, sleepiness, or stupor
* Eyelid drooping
* Headaches with nausea or vomiting
* Muscle weakness or difficulty moving any part of the body
* Numbness or decreased sensation in any part of the body
* Seizures
* Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
* Speech impairment
* Stiff neck (occasionally)
* Sudden onset of irritability, impulsivity, or poor temper control
* Vision changes (double vision, loss of vision)

NOTE: A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical help.

Diagnosis & Tests

An eye exam may show increased pressure within the brain (raised intracranial pressure), including swelling of the optic nerve or bleeding into the retina of the eye.

The following tests may be used to diagnose cerebral aneurysm and determine the cause of bleeding within the brain:

* CT scan of the head
* CSF exam (spinal tap)
* MRI of the head (CT scans may be better at showing bleeding in the brain)
* Cerebral angiography or spiral CT scan angiography of the head to reveal the location and size of the aneurysm
* Electroencephalogram (EEG) if seizures occur

Aneurysm in the brain: Overview, Causes

Aneurysm in the brain: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Aneurysm in the brain: Treatment

Review Date : 4/13/2009
Reviewed By : A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital (9/27/2008).
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