At St. Luke’s Center for Neuroscience, your physician may use any of several tests to check for the presence, precise location or extent of a suspected aneurysm. A thorough physical exam will be performed and your complete medical history, including family information, will be taken down. Abdominal and chest aneurysms have a higher rate of being hereditary. Your doctor will ask specific questions regarding any symptoms you have and how long you’ve had them.
Additional tests performed may depend on the pain or other symptoms you’ve been experiencing and the location of the site. An ultrasound or echocardiography can detect the presence and size of an aortic aneurysm. A computed tomography (CT) scan, with or without dye, conveys similar information in a more detailed way. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans help to pinpoint the details, and are important alternatives to CT scans that reduce exposure to radiation for patients who receive frequent screenings. An angiography can show the insides of your arteries and give your physician a better understanding of their condition.
If a brain aneurysm is suspected but a CT scan does not show bleeding, your physician may elect to perform a cerebrospinal fluid test. Brain aneurysms can rupture in spaces between the brain and the tissue that protects it, resulting in something called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This test checks for the appearance of red blood cells in your fluid, which would indicate the aneurysm.
There are also other, more detailed tests that your doctor may choose to perform if more information is needed or the conventional tests do not yield enough data.