Diagnosing a Brain Aneurysm
The first symptom of a brain aneurysm
is often a sudden, severe headache. Many people describe it as the worst headache of their
lives. Your healthcare provider will give you a physical exam and ask about your health
history. If he or she thinks you may have a brain aneurysm, tests can confirm it. Test
results can also help your healthcare team plan treatment.
A CT scan is a fast test that
creates an image of your brain. It shows if any blood has leaked around or into your
brain. In some cases, CT angiography may be done. This test creates an enhanced image
that can show a brain aneurysm. For the test, a contrast fluid is injected into your
vein. This fluid travels to your brain arteries. Then the CT scan is done to find
bleeding or other problems.
An MRI scan uses a computer, radio
waves, and a strong magnetic field. It creates detailed pictures of the brain. MR
angiography is done similarly to CT angiography, and creates more detailed images of
Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows in
and around your brain. It also flows around your spinal cord. A spinal tap can be done
to show if blood has leaked into your CSF. Your healthcare provider numbs your lower
back with a local pain medicine. Then he or she inserts a needle into your lower spine.
Fluid is removed through the needle. The fluid is examined to check for blood and signs
of other problems, such as infection.
|An arteriogram uses a contrast fluid to show an aneurysm.
An arteriogram shows the size,
shape, and location of an aneurysm. It can also show if you have vasospasm. Vasospasm is
a type of narrowing of blood vessels. This can occur after an aneurysm tears. It limits
the blood flow to your brain. For this procedure, you receive a local pain medicine.
Then, your doctor guides a thin tube (catheter) through your arteries. The catheter is
gently moved from an artery in your groin up into your neck. Contrast fluid is released
in the tube. It travels to your brain. X-rays are then taken. These show your arteries
and any aneurysms. This test has some risks. Your doctor will explain them before the
test. If you have vasospasm, treatments to limit its effects can be used.