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Types of aneurysms

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These are the most common types of aneurysms.

Brain (cerebral) aneurysm

A brain (cerebral) aneurysm is where the wall of a blood vessel in your brain bulges.

If the aneurysm has not ruptured (burst), there are often no symptoms. If the aneurysm grows, it can cause headaches, problems with eyesight and numbness in an arm or leg.

A ruptured cerebral aneurysm causes bleeding around your brain (called a subarachnoid haemorrhage).

Symptoms may include a sudden severe headache, feeling sick and vomiting. It can also make you feel drowsy, and you can become unconscious.

Aortic aneurysm

Your aorta is the largest artery in your body. It goes from your heart, through your chest, to your abdomen (stomach) and supplies blood around your body.

An aortic aneurysm happens when an area of your aorta bulges. This makes your aorta's wall weaker, which can make it burst. If the aneurysm is higher in your chest, it's called a thoracic aortic aneurysm. If it's lower in your chest or in your abdomen, it's called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

If the aneurysm is very large or leaking, it can cause abdominal or back pain.

Carotid aneurysm

You have two carotid arteries, one on each side of your neck. They supply blood to your brain, neck and face. A carotid artery aneurysm happens when a weak part of the artery wall bulges.

Often you have no symptoms. If the aneurysm gets large, you may have difficulty swallowing, your face may become swollen, and your voice may be hoarse.

If a blood clot breaks away from the carotid aneurysm, it can cause a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or a stroke.

Iliac aneurysm

As your aorta travels down your body, it divides into two arteries with one going to each leg. These are your iliac arteries.

As well as the causes of aneurysms listed above, you're more likely to get an iliac aneurysm if you've recently had an infection or hip or lower-back surgery.

These aneurysms often do not cause symptoms, but can cause leg, back or groin pain.

Popliteal aneurysm

Your popliteal artery runs behind your knee and supplies blood to your knee joint, thigh and calf.

Having blood vessel surgery in one or both legs may increase the risk of having a popliteal aneurysm.

Symptoms can include pain behind your knee or foot, swelling in your lower leg and sometimes ulcers (sores) on your foot that do not heal. Some people have no symptoms.

Popliteal aneurysms usually do not rupture. But the aneurysm can cause a clot to form, which blocks the blood flow to your lower leg.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2022.

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