How are aneurysms found?
Most Brain Aneurysms go undetected, due to lack of approved screening procedures, or are "incidentally" discovered where someone goes to a medical facility for another condition and undergoes testing that discovers a Brain Aneurysm through the widespread use of noninvasive, imaging techniques such as MRI, MRA and CT technology. A CT scan of the brain is typically the first step in diagnosing an aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage. If only a small amount of blood has leaked, the test may come back negative. In this case, a spinal tap maybe done to see how much blood has mixed with the cerebrospinal fluid.
Cerebral angiography is also used to obtain detailed anatomical information about the aneurysm and the blood vessels around it. This can be critical in determining the most appropriate treatment plan. During this procedure, dye is injected into your bloodstream and x-rays are taken, which will give the medical team information on how to best treat your condition. When an abnormality is detected through the imaging study the interventional radiologists and neurosurgeons discuss the patient case as a team.
Occasionally, Brain Aneurysms grow to be large enough to press on adjacent brain or nerves, producing symptoms due to “mass effect” which leads to its detection. Another important mode of discovery is the “sentinel bleed” – either a small hemorrhage (bleed) or a period of aneurysm growth which produces a sudden onset of headache that is very different from any other form of headache experienced.