A ruptured brain aneurysm is a medical emergency. Without immediate treatment, it may lead to coma or death.
A cerebral aneurysm, also called a brain aneurysm, can form anywhere in the brain. They are
A small brain aneurysm may not cause symptoms. The risks
Here’s what happens when a brain aneurysm ruptures, how it may lead to a coma, and what a person’s outlook may be after this medical event.
An aneurysm forms when there’s weakness in a blood vessel on the brain. This blood vessel enlarges, making it prone to rupturing.
Aneurysms develop with age, particularly
Some people experience a coma after a ruptured aneurysm due to the loss of blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Ruptured aneurysms can cause hemorrhagic stroke. This happens when blood from the rupture enters the area between the brain and the skull, called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, or in the brain tissues, called an intracerebral hemorrhage. A stroke causes an interruption of blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Doctors use a scale called the
The more bleeding, the higher the risk of adverse outcomes.
Getting immediate medical help may prevent a ruptured aneurysm from leading to a coma.
A small, unruptured aneurysm may not cause symptoms.
As it grows, you may experience:
- pain at the site of the aneurysm
- vision issues
- numbness or weakness in the arms and legs
- difficulty with memory and speech
A ruptured aneurysm may cause:
- thunderclap headache (a sudden,
- nausea or vomiting
- double vision
- stiff neck
A coma is an extended state of unconsciousness. It can last
Symptoms of coma may include:
- closed eyes (appearing to be asleep)
- no response to stimuli (cannot be woken up)
- irregular breathing
- pupillary changes
Doctors can detect an aneurysm through:
- Diagnostic cerebral angiogram: During a diagnostic cerebral angiogram, you lie flat on an X-ray table. Contrast dye is injected through a catheter that’s inserted into your groin and travels up to your neck. The contrast dye allows the aneurysm to show up on the scan.
- Computed tomographic angiography (CTA): During a CTA, you go into a CT scan machine. To make the aneurysm show on the scan, a clinician injects contrast dye into a vein.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): During an MRA, you go into an MRI scan machine. A clinician takes images of the blood vessels in the brain to look for the aneurysm.
- Lumbar puncture: During a lumbar puncture, a clinician collects a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). They specifically look for red blood cells and bilirubin, which may indicate a hemorrhage.
Doctors diagnose a coma by checking a person’s reflexes, response to stimuli, and other signs of awareness.
The Glasgow Coma Scale can also help diagnose a coma. This scale evaluates things like eye opening, verbal responses, and voluntary movements. People who are in a coma typically score a total of 8 or lower in these areas. The lower the score, the more severe the brain injury.
Treatment involves treating the condition that caused the coma. In this case, it means treating the ruptured aneurysm and hemorrhage or stroke.
A doctor can also surgically repair the brain aneurysm to stop the bleeding by clipping or coiling the aneurysm.
Healthcare staff will monitor vital signs and give intravenous fluids and medications as needed. The person in a coma may receive supplemental oxygen or breathing support via a ventilator. Staff will also insert a urinary catheter to drain the bladder.
The risk of death is around
For people who have experienced a deep coma (defined as grade 5 on the Hunt and Hess scale) after a ruptured aneurysm, the survival rate is
If I have one aneurysm, am I at risk of having another?
Yes. There’s a
Can treating a ruptured aneurysm reverse brain injury?
No. Prompt treatment is important to stop the bleeding and prevent severe brain injury. However, once permanent brain injury occurs, it
What other complications are common with a ruptured aneurysm?
Other complications may include:
If you suspect a brain aneurysm rupture, seek emergency medical attention.
When bleeding interrupts the blood and oxygen supply to the brain, a person may experience anything from headache to brain injury to coma. Treating the aneurysm may improve a person’s outcome.