September is National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. The neurosurgeons of Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group want the public to be aware of this potentially dangerous condition, its signs and symptoms, and where to get immediate medical attention.
A cerebral aneurysm is a bulging or ‘ballooning’ in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain. Some brain aneurysms are very small and do not cause any symptoms or problems; however, some have a potential to rupture or grow over time and become problematic as they grow larger.
“Survival and the best possible outcome depends on how fast a person receives care,” says Roham Moftakhar, M.D., Medical Director, Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group Neurosurgery.
In certain locations, when an aneurysm grows, it can press on nerves and a patient might have the following symptoms and signs:
- Pain above or behind the eye
- A dilated pupil
- Double vision or other vision problems
- A droopy eyelid
- Numbness/loss of feeling in the face or one side of the body
Even worse, if an aneurysm grows, it can rupture and lead to bleeding in the brain called subarachnoid hemorrhage. Some of the stroke-like symptoms include:
- Severe headache
- Loss of consciousness
According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, around 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm. That is about 1 in 50 people. Conversely, about 30,000 people in the United States suffer a brain aneurysm rupture every year.
A burst aneurysm is an extremely dangerous condition and requires immediate medical attention. It can be fatal in about 40 percent of cases. Of those who survive, about 66 percent suffer some permanent neurological damage.
Palmetto Health Richland has a team that provides 24/7 coverage for the intervention or surgical treatment of aneurysms from a dedicated team of neurosurgeons, neuroendovascular surgeons, stroke neurologists, technologists and nurses who specialize in these conditions.
Palmetto Health Richland also recently opened a new nuerointerventional suite. Paired with the hospital’s hybrid operating room, the new technology improves the neuroendovascular team’s ability to perform minimally invasive procedures on aneurysm patients.
“Years ago we had to open up the brain, and the patient was in the hospital recovering for weeks,” says Moftakhar. “Now, except for some extreme cases, we no longer have to open up the skull. After surgery, patients are left with only a small dressing in the groin area. Most can go home the next day, and they can get back to work in just a few days in cases when the aneurysm has not ruptured. It’s amazing that our technology and expertise have progressed so much that we can offer such advanced technology to patients .” In cases of a ruptured aneurysm, most patients are kept in the hospital for about two weeks on average to be monitored closely after the aneurysm is repaired.
If you or someone you love as been affected by a brain aneurysm or arterioenous malformation (AVM), the Joe Niekro Foundation holds a support group every third Thursday of every month, 6-8 p.m., at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Derrick room, 7 Richland Medical Park Dr., Columbia. For more information, please contact Mary Pat Baldauf at ColumbiaSC@JoeNiekroFoundation.org.
For more information about Palmetto Health USC Medical Group Neurosurgery, visit PalmettoHealth.org.