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Nonsurgical Brain Aneurysm Treatment

Whether you are worried about a growing list of symptoms or have recently received a brain aneurysm diagnosis and are unsure where to turn next, the experts at IVC are ready to help you. Understanding your brain aneurysm and your available options is the first step toward successful treatment, and our staff will be with you on every step of your journey. With breakthrough nonsurgical procedures, we can reduce the potential for a rupture while minimizing your downtime to help you enjoy a long and healthy life.

A Quick Guide to Brain Aneurysms

Brain aneurysms develop in the brain’s arteries when a weakened section of an arterial wall balloons outward and fills with blood, creating a small sac. They typically form along a bend or junction in the brain’s arteries as high blood pressure pushes against a weak spot in the arterial walls. Once present, aneurysms may exist for years without noticeable symptoms or side effects. The existence of a brain aneurysm itself is not inherently dangerous, but the potential for a leak or rupture makes them a serious health concern. Should a rupture occur, blood will spill into the brain, causing a life-threatening hemorrhagic stroke.

Brain aneurysms can occur for a variety of reasons and are not entirely preventable. Some common risk factors for brain aneurysms include:

  • Smoking
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Atherosclerosis (artery plaque buildup)
  • Drug use
  • Family history of aneurysms
  • Poor diet
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

Brain aneurysms are complex, which is why receiving a diagnosis can often feel so frightening and stressful for patients. While brain aneurysms have the potential to be a serious risk to your health, an estimated 50 to 80 percent of them never rupture during the patient’s lifetime. Although the rate of rupture for a brain aneurysm is only one percent annually, ruptured aneurysms have a high rate of disability and mortality. All diagnosed brain aneurysms should be treated as early as possible following their detection to prevent a rupture from occurring, no matter how small the risk may be.

Early Warning Signs of an Unruptured Aneurysm

While they can be nearly impossible to diagnose without help from a medical professional, unruptured brain aneurysms do produce some key symptoms that can be early warning signs. Not all unruptured brain aneurysms produce symptoms, but some common signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Pain located above or behind an eye
  • A single dilated pupil
  • Paralysis or weakness on one side of the face
  • A drooping eyelid
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Frequent headaches
  • Loss of balance
  • Blurred or double vision

A combination of some of the above indicators can suggest the presence of an unruptured brain aneurysm. If you regularly experience multiple symptoms, especially if you have a family history of brain aneurysms, schedule an appointment with a medical professional immediately.

Neurosurgery vs. Neurovascular Intervention: Understanding Your Treatment Options

Following a brain aneurysm diagnosis, your next step will be to choose a treatment option. While leaving an unruptured aneurysm alone can be an option due to its low risk of rupture, most patients seek treatment due to potential risk of disability or death. Many patients believe their only options for treatment are invasive neurosurgical procedures that require weeks of downtime and carry significant risk. With neurovascular intervention, however, treatment options have never been so safe, expansive or minimally invasive.

Neurovascular intervention employs nonsurgical endovascular procedures in the treatment of brain aneurysms. Rather than relying on an open brain surgery procedure, endovascular treatments use catheters directed under image-guidance to provide effective solutions with minimal downtime. Patients can often return home the very next day following their procedure and resume most normal activities within a week. At IVC, we offer the most cutting-edge nonsurgical treatment options available to give you the best chance of success with limited downtime.

Surgical Brain Aneurysm Treatment

The main surgical treatment used in preventing a brain aneurysm rupture is surgical clipping. During surgical clipping, a neurosurgeon removes a piece of the patient’s skull and locates the brain aneurysm. The neurosurgeon then places a small metal clip on the base, or neck, of the aneurysm. The pressure from the clip keeps the base of the aneurysm closed off from normal blood circulation and prevents it from rupturing. The clip is left in place to ensure the aneurysm does not rupture in the future. While effective, surgical clipping results in a large scar, a long hospital stay and several weeks of downtime.

Nonsurgical Brain Aneurysm Treatments

Endovascular Coiling

Endovascular coiling is a cutting-edge treatment that is performed entirely within the body’s arteries, negating the need for an open surgical procedure. A catheter is inserted through the groin into the femoral artery and directed under image-guidance to the brain aneurysm. Once the catheter reaches the aneurysm, tiny metal coils are released directly into the sac to fill it completely. The body responds by clotting the blood around the coils, thereby limiting blood flow to the aneurysm itself. Over time, brain aneurysms successfully treated with endovascular coiling will gradually shrink.

Endovascular coiling essentially accomplishes from the inside of the artery what surgical clipping accomplishes from the outside. The majority of patients treated with endovascular coiling can return home the very next morning and resume most normal activities in about a week. Endovascular coiling can also be combined with balloon remodeling or intracranial stenting when more complex treatment is required, increasing the number of patients who can benefit from this life-saving procedure.

Pipeline Embolization

A Pipeline embolization device (PED) uses flow diversion to limit blood flow to the brain aneurysm. Like endovascular coiling, the Pipeline embolization procedure is kept within the arteries and starts with a small incision in the groin. The PED is then directed to the aneurysm using a catheter and advanced image-guidance. Once the catheter is in place, the PED is attached inside the walls of the artery to restore healthy circulation by limiting the amount of blood flowing into the aneurysm. The PED’s open wire mesh scaffolding minimizes the amount of blood allowed into the aneurysm, successfully directing circulation along the path of the artery.

Following Pipeline embolization, the PED is left in place to facilitate healthy circulation. The treated aneurysm shrinks over time and eventually disappears. Pipeline embolization is typically used when surgical clipping or endovascular coiling are not viable options for a patient. The procedure also allows neurovascular specialists to operate on brain aneurysms that were previously inoperable by first shrinking them with a PED. Patients who undergo a Pipeline embolization procedure can enjoy a recovery period of only one to two weeks and go home in 48 hours on average.

Preventing Ruptured Brain Aneurysms at IVC

When it comes to treating brain aneurysms, time is of the essence. The threat of a rupture may seem small but acting quickly will ensure your life is never cut short. With neurovascular intervention, the prognosis of a brain aneurysm is better than ever before. At IVC, we will help you understand and evaluate all of your options, including endovascular coiling and Pipeline embolization. Our fellowship trained neurovascular radiologist can provide you with life-changing treatment that allows you to get back to your life as soon as possible.

We know how scary a brain aneurysm diagnosis can be, which is why we have dedicated ourselves to giving patients the education and support they need. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule a consultation with our neurovascular specialist and learn more about your options.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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