What is the prognosis for cerebral aneurysms?

There are many factors that help determine the prognosis for a cerebral aneurysm. They include the extent and location of the aneurysm, as well as the person's overall health, age and neurological state.

A cerebral aneurysm is when part of an artery wall in the brain dilates, bulges, or balloons out. Cerebral aneurysms can occur at any age, but are more common in adults. Emergency treatment for patients with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm may be required to reduce pressure within the brain. Further treatment is necessary to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing again.

There are two common treatments for ruptured aneurysms. One involves the surgical clipping of the blood vessel that feeds the aneurysm. The other is a less invasive procedure where a hollow plastic tube is inserted into an artery to reach the aneurysm and disrupt its blood flow.
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An unruptured aneurysm may go unnoticed throughout a person's lifetime. A burst aneurysm, however, may be fatal or could lead to hemorrhagic stroke, vasospasm (the leading cause of disability or death following a burst aneurysm), hydrocephalus, coma, or short-term and/or permanent brain damage.

The prognosis for persons whose aneurysm has burst is largely dependent on the age and general health of the individual, other pre-existing neurological conditions, location of the aneurysm, extent of bleeding (and re-bleeding), and time between rupture and medical attention. It is estimated that about forty percent of individuals whose aneurysm has ruptured do not survive the first 24 hours; another twenty five percent die from complications within six months. People who experience subarachnoid hemorrhage may have permanent neurological damage. However, other individuals may recover with little or no neurological deficit. Delayed complications from a burst aneurysm may include hydrocephalus and vasospasm. Early diagnosis and treatment of the disorder are important.

Individuals receiving treatment for an unruptured aneurysm require less rehabilitative therapy and recover more quickly than persons whose aneurysm has burst. Recovery from treatment or rupture may take weeks to months.

Results of the International Subarachnoid Aneurysm Trial (ISAT), sponsored by health ministries in the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, and announced in October 2002, found that the outcome for individuals treated with endovascular coiling may be superior in the short-term (1 one year) as compared to those whose aneurysm was treated with surgical clipping. Long-term results of coiling procedures are unknown and more research is required on this topic, since some aneurysms can recur after coiling. Individuals may want to consult a specialist in both endovascular and surgical repair of aneurysms, to provide greater understanding of treatment options.

This answer from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

Continue Learning about Brain Aneurysms

Brain Aneurysms

The arteries in the brain occasionally develop a weak spot or bulge, which is called an aneurysm. The concern is that it can burst or rupture at that weak spot, causing blood to leak into the brain, a brain aneurysm hemorrhage. A ...

rupture is very serious, often fatal or leaving permanent paralysis and disability. Doctors detect aneurysms with various scans. There are two surgical treatments that reduce the risk of rupture. One is open brain surgery (craniotomy) the other, less invasive, is endovascular surgery. Which is appropriate depends on where the aneurysm is located. An aneurysm is a very serious medical condition and requires immediate attention.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.