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Symptoms of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms


The first evidence of a cerebral aneurysm may be a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), due to rupture of the aneurysm:

  • “worst headache in my life”
  • neck stiffness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of consciousness
  • photophobia (sensitivity to light)

If any of these symptoms occur they signify a medical emergency and help should be sought immediately (GP or local hospital). Often cerebral aneurysms are identified as incidental findings in various scans of the head, usually for unrelated conditions. These are unruptured aneurysms and they are usually not an emergency, although they require expert assessment and management. Management of these unruptured lesions is delivered by a team of experts in neuroradiology, neurology and neurosurgery (neurovascular multidisciplinary team MDT). Treatment advice and decision depends, among others, on the:

  • Age of the patient
  • Other medical problems (co-morbidities)
  • Size and location of the aneurysm
  • Presenting symptoms