Intracranial aneurysms are present in up to 4 percent of the population. These potentially dangerous vascular lesions are being detected with increasing frequency in asymptomatic patients by advances in noninvasive imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Appearing like blisters on the wall of the brain’s blood vessels, aneurysms develop when the blood vessel’s native repair ability is exceeded by the mild, but constant, injury created by flowing blood under high pressure. The five most common risk factors for developing an aneurysm are: smoking, female gender, high blood pressure, middle age and family history.
Intracranial aneurysms are complex lesions that require a highly specialized, multidisciplinary approach that is individualized for each patient. Key members of the care team for these patients include endovascular neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons with special expertise in aneurysm surgery and neuroanesthesiologists. Availability of dedicated neurocritical care units is an essential care component. A consensus recommendation by these specialists may include close observation, obliteration of the aneurysm with a surgical clip, or filling the vascular outpouching with filamentous coils that are introduced by endovascular microcatheters via an artery in the leg. This latter process is called “coiling.”