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3 Ways to Stop Brain Aneurysms From Leaking or Bursting

AneurysmAneurysms — balloon-like weakness of the blood vessels — are especially dangerous in the brain. While some pose no threat, others are at risk for bleeding and/or can steadily grow. They balloon out and fill with blood. This may compress nerves and tissues, triggering headaches and facial numbness.

The worst-case scenario: Aneurysms can hemorrhage or burst, flooding the brain with blood. “This causes a really devastating type of stroke that, for one-third of patients, is potentially life-ending,” says neurosurgeon Peter Rasmussen, MD. Doctors treat aneurysms to prevent stroke in three major ways:

1. Surgical clipping
The most traditional procedure, surgical clipping requires general anesthesia and starts with an incision in your scalp.

“We make an opening, or a window, in the skull,” explains Dr. Rasmussen. “Using a powerful surgical microscope armed with a bright light, we locate the aneurysm, place a small metal spring-clip on it, and pinch it off.” After confirming the repair, surgeons close the wound.

“It may seem like a lot to go through,” he says. “But when you leave the hospital with your aneurysm repaired, you’ll be at exceedingly low — or no — risk of hemorrhage.”

2. Coiling