Intracranial Aneurysms

Intracranial aneurysms are out-pouchings of the arterial vessels which supply the brain with blood. Approximately 2% of the population harbour an intracranial aneurysm, and many lay dormant and may be incidentally discovered on imaging studies performed for other reasons. However, these carry a risk of rupture, which can lead to major morbidity and mortality. Thus, these lesions may be treated electively to minimize risk, or acutely to stop the aneurysm from re-bleeding.

Greater than 90% of intracranial aneurysms are treated endovascularly today, secondary to a number of studies in the 2000s which demonstrated the safety of endovascular operations compared to open operations; however, this can be greatly dependent on the nature of a person’s individual aneurysm. At NIISwa, we take a multidisciplinary approach with neurosurgery for optimal patient outcome. All endovascular operations for intracranial aneurysms in Western Australia are performed at NIISwa.

Endovascular treatment of aneurysms generally involves the catheterization of brain arteries “from the inside”, via the blood vessels from the femoral artery (at the top of the leg) or radial artery (one of two arteries at the wrist leading to the hand). A series of catheters (tubes) are inserted which are passed through the arterial system, into the brain artery harbouring the aneurysm. From there, the aneurysm itself may be catheterized, and filled with very small, soft platinum coils or a metal cage (flow disruptor) which cause the aneurysm to clot. This causes the aneurysm to become a part of the vessel wall over time. Alternatively, stents may be placed across the junction of the aneurysm with the vessel it comes off, or sometimes a combination of the above. The exact method of treatment depends on the nature of each aneurysm which is usually very individual.

For more information, we advise that you speak to your doctor, who can refer you onto a Interventional Neuroradiologist at NIISwa if appropriate.