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Common Types of Aneurysms

Common Types of Aneurysms

December 07, 2023 Posted in: Heart & Vascular Care  3 minute read time

Aneurysms are a medical condition that can strike unexpectedly, causing concern and confusion for those affected. It is important to understand what an aneurysm is, how it occurs and the different types of aneurysms to ensure  early detection and prompt treatment. In this article, we will explore the three primary types of aneurysms – cerebral (brain) aneurysms, abdominal aortic aneurysms (often referred to as "Triple A") and thoracic aortic aneurysms. We will delve into the causes, symptoms and treatment options for each type, empowering you with knowledge to seek timely medical attention if needed.

Cerebral (Brain) Aneurysms

Cerebral aneurysms, often interchangeably referred to as brain aneurysms, are a unique and potentially life-threatening form of aneurysm. They occur within the brain's blood vessels and can pose a significant risk to neurological health.

Specific Types of Brain Aneurysms

  • Saccular: This is the most common type, typically located at the base of the brain. It resembles a berry-shaped sac attached to an artery by either a narrow or wide neck.
  • Fusiform: The blood vessel bulges into a spindle shape due to artery plaque (atherosclerosis).
  • Dissecting aneurysm: This rare type is typically due to head injury, starting with an inner artery wall tear that causes blood to leak between the wall’s layers.


  • Genetic predisposition

  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking

  • Head trauma

  • Other certain medical conditions


  • Severe headache

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Stiff neck

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Loss of consciousness (in severe cases)


The choice of treatment depends on the aneurysm's size and location:

  • Observation: Small, unruptured aneurysms may only require monitoring.

  • Endovascular Coiling: A minimally invasive procedure where a coils or another device is inserted to block off blood flow to the aneurysm.

  • Clipping Surgery: Open-skull surgery to secure the aneurysm and prevent rupture.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), often known as "Triple A," are the most common type of aneurysm. They occur in the body's largest artery, the aorta, as it passes through the abdomen.


  • Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup)

  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking

  • Genetic factors


  • Often asymptomatic until rupture

  • Abdominal or back pain

  • Pulsating mass in the abdomen


The treatment approach depends on the aneurysm's size:

  • Monitoring: Small AAAs may require regular observation.

  • Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR): A less invasive procedure where a stent graft is inserted to reinforce the weakened artery wall.

  • Open Surgical Repair: Traditional open surgery to replace the damaged artery segment with a graft.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

Thoracic aortic aneurysms occur in the chest portion of the aorta, posing a risk to vital organs.


  • Atherosclerosis

  • Genetic conditions

  • Injuries


  • Chest or back pain

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Hoarseness


Treatment options depend on the aneurysm's size, location, and overall health:

  • Monitoring: Small aneurysms may require regular check-ups.

  • Endovascular Repair: Similar to AAA repair, this minimally invasive procedure involves inserting a stent graft.

  • Open Surgery: In some cases, open surgery may be necessary to replace the damaged portion of the aorta.

How can I find out if I have an aneurysm?

If you suspect you might have an aneurysm or have risk factors, seek medical evaluation promptly. Consult with your health care provider, who may recommend imaging tests such as CT scans or ultrasounds to detect the presence of an aneurysm.

To detect if you have an aneurysm, ask your doctor about a referral to a CHI Saint Joseph Health Diagnostic Imaging & Radiology center near you.

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