What Are MIIPs? / Brain Aneurysm

What is a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is an abnormal ballooning of an artery in the brain. The aneurysm is a weak area in the artery that could burst or bleed. 

How do I know if I have a brain aneurysm?

Usually a small brain aneurysm does not cause any symptoms. Big aneurysms can press on nerves to cause symptoms like these:

  • blurry vision
  • headache
  • pain behind eye
  • a droopy eyelid
A medical imaging test like a CT or MRI can find out whether your symptoms are caused by a brain aneurysm. 

What are the symptoms of a bleeding or burst brain aneurysm?

A bleeding brain aneurysm is a medical emergency! Symptoms of a bleeding or burst brain aneurysm are

  • severe headache, often described as “the worst headache of my life”
  • stiff neck
  • sudden blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • dizziness
  • changed level of awareness or consciousness
  • seizure
  • stroke-like symptoms

Every year, about 30,000 people in the US have ruptured brain aneurysms. About 40% of them die from the aneurysm - sadly, 10% will die before they can even get treatment. It is difficult to know why or when an aneurysm will burst, but factors that can increase the chances that an aneurysm will bursting are

  • high blood pressure
  • straining or strong emotions that increase blood pressure quickly
  • blood thinners
  • cocaine or other stimulants

What are treatments for a brain aneurysm?

Metal coil at tip of catheter

Metal coil at tip of catheter

Not all brain aneurysms need to be treated. Small aneurysms that do not cause symptoms may be followed with imaging tests. If your doctor recommends that you get treated for your brain aneurysm, you have two options:
  1. Surgery
  • the surgeon makes an opening in the skull so they can reach the aneurysm
  • the surgeon puts a clip at the base of the aneurysm to prevent bleeding

2.  Minimally invasive, image-guided procedure (MIIP)

  • the Neurointerventional doctor numbs up the skin in the groin
  • through a pinhole, the doctor inserts a tiny plastic tube into the artery in the groin
  • using moving x-rays to see, the doctor guides the tiny plastic tube through the body’s arteries to the artery in the brain that has the aneurysm
  • the doctor can see the aneurysm by injecting contrast dye into the artery
  • the doctor uses the tiny plastic tube to plug up the aneurysm with fine coiled metal wires - this prevents bleeding

What are the risks of treatments for a brain aneurysm?

Your doctor will discuss all of the risks and benefits of treatment for your brain aneurysm, depending on its size, location, and whether or not it has burst. Both MIIPs and surgery carry a risk of damaging the brain, though the risks are smaller with the MIIP. However, the chance of bleeding again in the future is higher with the MIIP. Knowing your options and discussing them with your medical team will help you decide on the best treatment for you.

For more information about brain aneurysm:


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