An intracranial aneurysm is a thinning of the walls of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death.
Most aneurysms occur in the aorta. The dilation appears in one of the walls, in any part of the artery. However in most cases, this happens in the abdominal aorta. Although the aorta is the artery with the highest risk, aneurysms can appear in other arteries of the body. Many of the aneurysms are an effect of a hereditary weakness or of arteriosclerosis (an illness that weakens the aortic wall until the pressure in this artery causes a dilation or ballooning effect); others are caused by external factors such as traumas or bacterial infections in the artery wall. Normally a blood clot (thrombus) can appear together with the aneurysm. High blood pressure and smoking can also lead to the formation of aneurysms.
There are several types of aneurysm:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm: it is located in the segment of the aorta that passes through the abdomen. It is usually larger than 7 cm which causes it to have a greater risk of rupturing.
- Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm: located in the segment of the aorta that passes through the chest.
- Aortic dissection: a tearing in the inner wall of the artery allowing blood to flow between the layers of the blood vessel wall, raising the existing middle layer and creating a new channel in the aortic wall.
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