BSN Notes: Neurology- Cerebral aneurysms


Cerebral aneurysms

A brain aneurysm, also called a cerebral or intracranial aneurysm, is an abnormal bulging outward of one of the arteries in the brain.
Brain aneurysms are often discovered when they rupture, causing bleeding into the brain or the space closely surrounding the brain called the subarachnoid space, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
         75% of subarachnoid hemorrhages
         12% die before receiving medical help.
         40% of hospitalized patients die within I month.
         More than 1/3 lives with major neurologic deficits.
         20% morbidity
         20% mortality
         4% morbidity
         0.2% mortality

Classification of aneurysm

·     According to size
·     Fusiform aneurysm
·     Saccular aneurysm
·     Dissecting aneurysm
·     According to cause
·     True aneurysm
·     False aneurysm
Fusiform aneurysm — it is a diffuse dilation that involves the entire circumference of the arterial segment that is whole artery.
Saccular aneurysm- it is a distension of a vessel projecting from one side. Saccular aneurysm is a distinct, localized out pouching of the arterial wall.
Dissecting aneurysm - Are the result of traumatic tear of an arterial Hemorrhage or intramural hematoma, separating the layers of an arterial wall. Commonly involves arch of aorta

According to cause

True aneurysm- results of the slow weakening of the arterial wall caused by long term disease such as hypertension, atherosclerosis etc.
False aneurysm- pseudo aneurysm caused by traumatic break in the arterial wall.
         Small- less then 12mm 78%
         Large- 12-24mm. 2%
         Giant- 24mm.      2%


·         Genetic
·         Age over 50 years.
·         Female gender.
·         Cigarette smoking.
·         Cocaine use- drug abuse
·         Infection of vessel wall.
·         Head trauma.
·         Intracranial neoplasm/neoplastic emboli.
·         HTN.
·         Constant stress
·         Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis


Due to etiological factors
·         Weakness of the vessel wall
·         Abnormal dilation of the wall of the artery
·         Rupture of an aneurysmal due to intra-aneurysmal pressure and thinning of vessel wall
·         Blood leaks into the subarachnoid space may cause increase ICP and ischemia  Subarachnoid hemorrhage
    Grading of cerebral aneurysm
Hunt- Hess scale
Grade 0  Unruptured asymptomatic discovery
Grade I         Asymptomatic or minimal headache with slight nuchal rigidity
Grade II   Moderate to severe headache , nuchal rigidity, no neurologic deficit other than cranial nerve palsy
Grade III    Drowsiness, confusion or mild focal deficit(hemiparesis) or combination
Grade IV      Stupor , moderate to severe deficit , decerebrate posturing
Grade V   Deep coma, decerebrate posturing, moribound.

Symptoms of unruptured aneurysm
I . Acute
 Severe headache
 Transient ischemia
Oculomotor nerve palsy/vision loss
Chronic loss of vision
Unilateral optic neuropathy
Motor weakness/cranial neuropathy Facial pain



·         History and physical examination
·         Cerebral angiography
·         CT angiography
·         EEG
·         CT
·         MRI
·         CSF analysis

Medical management

          Administer nitroprusside / antihypertensive agents and close monitoring of blood pressure
          Administer calcium channel blockers such as nimodepine to prevent vasospasm
          Prophylactic antiepileptic drugs to prevent /control seizures such as phenytoin, phenobarbital.
Aneurysm precautions
       Complete bed rest with head elevated 30 degree
          Intravenous fluids
          Avoidance of valsalva maneuver and neck flexion
           Decreasing environmental stimuli 
          Limitations of visitors
          Administration of analgesic and sedatives

Surgical management

       There are two common treatment options for rupture brain aneurysm.
·         Surgical clipping
·         Endovascular coiling
·          Is a procedure to close of an aneurysm
·          The neurosurgeon removes a section of skull to access the aneurysm and locates the blood vessel that feeds the aneurysm.
·          A tiny metal clip is placed on the neck of the aneurysm to stop the blood flow to it
·          Is a less invasive procedure than surgical clipping
·          The surgeon inserts a hollow plastic tube (catheter) into an artery , then uses a guide wire to push a soft platinum wire through the catheter and into aneurysm
·          The wire coils up inside the aneurysm , disrupts the blood flow and causes blood to clot
·          This clotting essentially seals off the aneurysm from the artery.

Ventricular or lumbar draining catheters and shunt surgery

·          Can lessen pressure on the brain from excess cerebrospinal fluid (hydrocephalus) associated with a ruptured aneurysm
·          Catheter may be placed in the spaces filled with fluid inside of the brain (ventricles) or surrounding brain and spinal cord to drain the excess fluid into an external bag.
·          Shunt system — which consists of a flexible silicone rubber tube (shunt) and a valve — that creates a drainage channel starting in brain and ending in abdominal cavity.

Nursing management

·         Monitor neurologic status carefully everyhour
·          Establish and maintain a patent airway as needed. administer supplemental oxygen as ordered
·         Position the patient to promote pulmonary drainage and prevent upper airway obstruction. avoid placing the patient in the prone position as well as hyperextending his neck .
·         Suction the secretions from the airway as necessary to prevent hypoxia and vasodilation from carbondioxide accumulation
·         Prepare the patient for emergency craniotomy , if indicated
·         Administer hydralazine / antihypertensive agents as ordered.
·         Discourage and control any measures that initiates valsalvas maneuver, such as coughing , straining at stool , pushing up in bed with elbows , turning with the mouth closed.
·         Give fluids as ordered and monitor IV infusions to avoid overhydration, which may increase ICP.



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item BSN Notes: Neurology- Cerebral aneurysms
BSN Notes: Neurology- Cerebral aneurysms
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