The death rate is high, but many children do survive brain aneurysms. That said, it’s possible for a child who survives to have further complications related to the aneurysm or its treatment.
An aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel, usually an artery. Because this area is weaker, the pressure of the blood flowing through the artery causes it to bulge or balloon out. It’s possible for an aneurysm to burst (rupture), leading to life threatening bleeding.
When an aneurysm happens in an artery in the brain, it’s called a brain aneurysm. You may also see them called cerebral or intracerebral aneurysms.
Brain aneurysms can affect people of all ages. Below, we’ll explore the survival rates and outlook for children with brain aneurysms. We’ll also cover what causes brain aneurysms in children and the symptoms to look out for.
Because brain aneurysms in children are quite rare, much of the information we have on survival is from smaller studies.
For example, one 2021 study included 47 children. The mortality rate was 10.6%, meaning that just under 90% of the children survived. Those who died all had a ruptured aneurysm that caused a type of brain bleed called a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).
Survival is lower when an aneurysm ruptures. Researchers have estimated that the overall mortality rate for children with ruptured aneurysms
A 2019 study included 51 children, 37 of whom had ruptured aneurysms. The mortality rate was 19.6%, meaning that about 80% of the children survived. Again, all of the children who died had a SAH.
Some brain aneurysms in children have no known cause, which a doctor might describe as “idiopathic.” These aneurysms may be associated with an existing defect in a blood vessel or a condition affecting the blood vessels and connective tissue.
Often, brain aneurysms don’t cause any symptoms. However, an unruptured brain aneurysm — particularly if it’s large — may press on surrounding tissues in the brain, leading to signs and symptoms like:
- nausea or vomiting
- pain or swelling around or behind the eye
- numbness, weakness, or paralysis, sometimes on one side of the body
- vision issues, like blurry or double vision
- neurological problems, such as changes in thinking, speech, or behavior
Many aneurysms don’t cause symptoms until they’ve ruptured. This can lead to:
- a headache that comes on suddenly and is very severe
- a stiff neck
- nausea and vomiting
- vision issues, like blurry or double vision
- sensitivity to light
- stroke-like symptoms, including numbness, weakness, or paralysis affecting one side of the body, slurred speech, or confusion
- loss of consciousness
A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency. To prevent lasting complications or death, it’s vital to seek emergency medical care if a child shows symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm.
Doctors often treat brain aneurysms in children surgically. This can involve cutting off blood flow to the aneurysm (“clipping”) or filling the aneurysm with small coils (“coiling”).
Surgical treatment of brain aneurysms in children can be more challenging than in adults. This is because children
Despite the more complex nature of treating brain aneurysms in children, many have a
That said, some survivors may have neurological problems, either due to the effects of the aneurysm itself or the side effects of treatment. A few examples of such problems include cognitive changes, difficulty with speech, and trouble with movement.
Additionally, a treated aneurysm may reoccur or begin bleeding again after treatment. New aneurysms may also form. Due to this, a child who survives a brain aneurysm will need to have repeated imaging tests for at least 5 years.
How common are brain aneurysms in children?
Brain aneurysms in children are very rare. They account for only
Who is more prone to a brain aneurysm?
A child may be more prone to a brain aneurysm if they have:
- experienced an injury or accident affecting their head
- another close family member, such as a parent or sibling, who has had a brain aneurysm
- a diagnosed blood vessel disease
- certain genetic conditions, including:
Can a brain aneurysm heal itself?
It’s unlikely that a brain aneurysm that has already formed will go away on its own.
However, not all brain aneurysms need immediate treatment. If an aneurysm isn’t at high risk of rupturing, a doctor may recommend monitoring it periodically.
Many children who have a brain aneurysm survive. However, brain aneurysms do still have a high mortality rate, especially if they rupture.
Treating brain aneurysms in children often involves surgery. And even after treatment, a variety of complications can still happen. These may include neurological problems, aneurysm reoccurrence, or bleeding.
Some children with unruptured aneurysms may have symptoms if the aneurysm is large. However, many don’t have symptoms until the aneurysm ruptures. This is a medical emergency that requires prompt care to improve outlook and survival.