Health Care

Emergency Brain Aneurysms: What to Know

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

Neuro-Lefler-Image

About 1% of the population has an aneurysm inside their head. Finding and treating a brain aneurysm both before and after it becomes an emergency requires a specific type of care. That’s why the AdventHealth Tampa team includes specialty-trained doctors called neurointerventional radiologists, who use a less invasive approach to treat lesions of the brain and spine — including brain aneurysms.

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a weakened part of a blood vessel that expands.

“I tell my patients that a brain aneurysm is like a bubble on a tire — except it forms on a blood vessel,” explains Richard Klucznik, MD a board-certified neurointerventional radiologist at AdventHealth Tampa. “And since the blood vessels in our head aren’t as strong as the ones in our heart or legs, over time, high blood pressure, diabetes and other factors can cause these bubbles to form.”

There are two types of brain aneurysms: those that have ruptured and cause bleeding inside the head (an emergency aneurysm) and those that haven’t. And it’s likely you won’t even know you have an aneurysm until you have a brain imaging scan, such as an MRI, or your aneurysm ruptures.

“There are some hereditary factors to aneurysms, too,” explains Dr. Klucznik. “If you have an aunt or uncle, mother or father who has had an aneurysm or ruptured aneurysm, you’re at a higher risk and should be screened. The easiest way is with an MRI scan of the brain.”

Aneurysm vs Stroke

Though many people confuse an aneurysm with a stroke, they are two distinct conditions. However, an aneurysm that ruptures can lead to a stroke. Bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain is also known as a hemorrhagic stroke, which accounts for about 13% of all strokes, according to the American Stroke Association.

Brain Aneurysm Symptoms

Most brain aneurysms don’t cause symptoms unless they rupture. Then, the pain can get severe.

“Those with ruptures usually have the worst headache of their life,” says James Lefler, MD, board-certified neurointerventional radiologist at AdventHealth Tampa. “They often describe it as an elephant stepping on their head and not getting off. We treat these aneurysms as emergencies.”

The most common symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm include:

  • A sudden, intense headache
  • Loss of consciousness (or a coma)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light

Treatment for an Emergency Aneurysm


Emergency aneurysms require treatment right away. When a person with a ruptured aneurysm comes to the hospital, they will likely have:

  • A CT scan to see if there’s blood in the brain
  • An angiogram to see if there’s an aneurysm

If you have an aneurysm, your neurointerventional radiology team will likely use a coil to stop or prevent the aneurysm from bleeding. Interventional neuroradiologists typically use specialized imaging equipment to access your blood vessel through your groin. That way, they don’t have to open the skull for brain surgery.

“We go through the groin to the head and try to exclude the aneurysm from circulation,” describes Dr. Lefler. “We do that either with coils inside the aneurysm, or we use a stent across the neck of the aneurysm. It’s almost like a jail cell that keeps the aneurysm away from everything else.”

Aneurysms that haven’t ruptured are usually treated on an outpatient basis. Patients come in one day and are home the next. With ruptured aneurysms, even with a minimally invasive procedure, the hospital stay is longer.

“Many patients stay in the hospital for two to three weeks,” says Dr. Lefler. “They usually recover from the treatment pretty quickly but require more time to recover from the blood inside the head if the aneurysm ruptured.”

Work with Brain Aneurysm Experts

If you or a loved one has a brain aneurysm or concerns about a brain aneurysm, we’re here to help. At AdventHealth Tampa, we bring together top experts and the latest and greatest technologies—all so you get the best possible care for your body, mind and spirit.

James Lefler, MD
James Lefler, MD

About Dr. Lefler

James Lefler, MD, is a board-certified neurointerventional radiologist who brings over 25 years of dedication and experience treating patients with neurovascular diseases of the head, brain, neck and spine using the latest minimally invasive techniques. He has completed fellowships in radiology, neuroradiology and interventional neuroradiology. Dr. Lefler has a Certificate of Added Qualification in Neuroradiology (CAQ-Neuroradiology) from the American Board of Radiology and is CAST Certified in CNS Endovascular Neurosurgery by the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He also treats patients who suffer from intracranial aneurysms, Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) and acute stroke.

Richard Klucznik, MD, FACR, FSNIS
Richard Klucznik, MD

About Dr. Klucznik

Richard Klucznik, MD, FACR, FSNIS, is a board-certified neurointerventional radiologist with more than 35 years of experience. He has completed fellowships in radiology, neuroradiology and interventional neuroradiology. Dr. Klucznik has a Certificate of Added Qualification in Neuroradiology (CAQ-Neuroradiology) from the American Board of Radiology and is CAST Certified in CNS Endovascular Neurosurgery by the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He focuses on the endovascular treatment of aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, vascular malformations of the brain and spine, and strokes.

Recent Blogs

Older female patient looking at a document with her nurse
Blog
Osteoporosis and Bone Density: Who Needs the Screening and When?
AHT Hind Kettani Neuro Photoshoot
Blog
What is Memory Loss?
Blog
Your Essential Guide to Cancer Screenings by Age
Applying sunscreen to child
Blog
Sunscreen: Most Frequently Missed Areas
Blog
What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?
View More Articles