Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – Coronal Berry

When a cerebral aneurysm ruptures, blood will fill the space surrounding the brain.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel just outside the brain ruptures. The area of the skull surrounding the brain (the subarachnoid space) rapidly fills with blood. A patient with subarachnoid hemorrhage may have a sudden, intense headache, neck pain, and nausea or vomiting. Sometimes this is described as the worst headache of one’s life. The sudden buildup of pressure outside the brain may also cause rapid loss of consciousness or death.

What causes it?

Subarachnoid hemorrhage is most often caused by abnormalities of the arteries at the base of the brain, called cerebral aneurysms. These are small areas of rounded or irregular swellings in the arteries. Where the swelling is most severe, the blood vessel wall becomes weak and prone to rupture. View an interactive tutorial on cerebral aneurysms from the Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group.

Who gets it?

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – Surgical Clip

Surgical treatment of aneurysms involves placing clip on neck of aneurysm.

The cause of cerebral aneurysms is not known. They may develop from birth or in childhood and grow very slowly. Some people have multiple aneuryms. Subarachnoid hemorrhage can occur at any age, including in teenagers and young adults and is slightly more common in women than men.