CT scans offer one way to learn more about the location, size, and shape of a brain aneurysm.

A brain aneurysm is a weak or very thin spot on an artery in the brain that bulges out and fills with blood. Brain aneurysms can put extra pressure on brain nerves and tissue. They can also burst, spilling blood and causing a hemorrhage.

Brain aneurysms may impact as many as 1 in 20 people or as few as 1 in 100 people. A more accurate count is not possible due to their ability to appear without symptoms and disappear unnoticed. Some brain aneurysms can be life threatening and may only be detected using medical imagery like CT scans.

A CT scan offers doctors a picture of the brain and skull. It can help doctors to determine if there’s any blood leaking around the brain, and indicate the presence of a brain aneurysm.

In some cases, doctors may recommend the use of a CTA scan instead of a regular CT scan. In a CTA, a dye is injected into the veins as part of the CT scan process. This dye allows doctors to have a better visual of the blood vessels and how blood is flowing through them, which can be helpful in determining the location, size, and shape of a brain aneurysm.

Yes, doctors may use CT (or CTA) scans to help identify the size, shape, and location of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms.

Some types of brain aneurysms can be detected on a CT scan without the use of contrast solution. However, depending on the circumstances, a doctor may request a CTA to have a clearer picture of the arteries.

Many times a brain aneurysm will not cause any symptoms unless it has burst. However, in some cases, a brain aneurysm will press against nerves or brain tissue causing symptoms. In these cases, individuals with a brain aneurysm may experience:

  • loss of vision or double vision
  • headaches
  • pain around the eye
  • trouble speaking or numbness/weakness on one side of the face
  • loss of balance
  • difficulty with short-term memory and concentration

If a brain aneurysm has ruptured, individuals may experience:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • neck pain
  • sudden loss of consciousness
  • seizures

It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you believe that you have a brain aneurysm that has ruptured.

Both MRI and CT/CTA scans can be used to identify a brain aneurysm.

MRI scans are frequently used to look for unruptured brain aneurysms.

On the other hand, CT scans are more likely to be used if there are signs of a bleeding aneurysm.

When choosing between CT/CTA scans and MRIs, doctors will consider that not all individuals are eligible for an MRI scan. For example, individuals with metal in their body, like a pacemaker, will need to talk with their doctor about other imaging options, such as a CT/CTA scan.

Some small brain aneurysms just require monitoring, but larger or ruptured brain aneurysms may include more aggressive treatments like:

  • Microvascular clipping: This is a surgery where the blood supply to the aneurysm is cut off with a clip.
  • Platinum coil embolization: A hollow plastic tube is inserted in the artery so coils of platinum wire can release and restrict blood flow to the aneurysm.
  • Stents: These are small flexible mesh tubes that can divert blood flow from the aneurysm.

In addition to surgical options, medications may be used to reduce the risk of stroke and seizures. Doctors may also suggest occupational, speech, or physical therapy to address any impacted functions.

25% of people do not survive more than 24 hours once a brain aneurysm ruptures and approximately 50% die within 3 months of the rupture.

Some factors that impact the seriousness of a brain aneurysm include:

  • size and location of the aneurysm
  • having hypertension or other health conditions that impact blood flow
  • age
  • extent of any hemorrhaging or brain damage

Brain aneurysms are a serious condition that can be potentially fatal. Individuals may not recognize that they have a brain aneurysm unless it’s hemorrhaging or impacting brain tissues.

CT scans and CTAs provide a way to identify brain aneurysms and gain important information about their size and location.

Remember, if you’re showing warning signs of a brain aneurysm, it’s important to notify your doctor and seek assistance quickly.