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Support groups
  • Baltimore Brain Aneurysm Foundation Support Group

    Lutherville-Timonium, MD

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  • Bay Area Aneurysm and Vascular Malformation Support Group

    San Francisco, CA

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  • Beth Israel Deaconess Brain Aneurysm Support Group

    Boston, MA

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Diagnosis

When a ruptured aneurysm is suspected, a head CT (computerized tomography) scan is performed. This is a painless, non-invasive X-ray exam. A CT scan will show if there has been bleeding in the brain.

However, a basic CT scan does not usually show the cause of the bleeding. Using a technique called computerized tomography angiography (CTA), in which a contrast dye is injected into the bloodstream, the brain’s blood vessels are highlighted and aneurysms can be seen using special imaging techniques.

Sometimes an angiogram is needed to provide a better view of the aneurysm and blood vessels. An angiogram may be done on an emergency basis after a subarachnoid hemorrhage is detected. For someone with an unruptured aneurysm, the angiogram is often performed as an outpatient procedure in an angiography suite of a hospital.

During an angiogram, an area of the groin is numbed and the doctor inserts a catheter into an artery in the groin. The catheter is then advanced to the appropriate area, and a contrast dye is injected through it. The dye highlights the arteries and X-ray images are taken.

Sometimes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) are used to screen patients for aneurysms. MRI and MRA, which use computer-generated radio waves and a powerful magnetic field, do not expose the patient to any ionizing radiation (X-rays).

CTA, MRA, or an angiogram may also be used to diagnose unruptured aneurysms.

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