Brain Aneurysms: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Brain Aneurysms: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

By William W. Ashley, Jr. MD, PhD, MBA, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Loyola University Medical Center


1. What are brain aneurysms?

2. Can you show me a picture or diagram of what an aneurysm looks like?

3. How are aneurysms usually diagnosed and evaluated?

4. What causes brain aneurysms?

5. Are brain aneurysms dangerous? What problems do they cause?

6. Are aneurysms common?

7. Are aneurysms inherited? Do I need to be worried about my relatives?

8. What is the location of my aneurysm?

9. Can you show me the radiographic image of my aneurysm and explain it to me?

10. Does this aneurysm need to be treated and why? Would observation be a reasonable approach?

11. Is this an emergency? How long do I have to make a decision about treatment?

12. What are the treatment options?

13. How will you decide between open surgical treatment (clipping) and endovascular treatment (coiling)?

14. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method?

15. Have there been any studies to prove that either treatment is better?

16. Which method is safer and more effective? In the short-term and in the long run?

17. Please describe what would happen if this aneurysm were to be clipped or coiled?

18. Which option do you think is best for me, and why?

19. What are the specific risks and benefits of each option?

20. What kind of problems could I expect?

21. Is there a chance that I would be disabled or lose function in any way?

22. How long would the procedure take?

23. How long would I be in the hospital and what would the overall recovery time be?

24. What would the recovery be like?

25. Will I need additional physical, occupational, or cognitive therapy?

26. How long will I be off of work?

27. What is the normal follow-up? Will I need additional angiograms or other studies?

28. How many aneurysms have you treated? What is your success rate?

29. Do you evaluate my case with other physicians in a cerebrovascular board?

30. Can you recommend anyone I could see to get a second opinion?

31. What will happen if I decide to not have surgery or other treatment?

32. Do you have any reading material on my condition?

33. Can you recommend any reliable websites?

34. Do you have adequate social support systems in place to help me after surgery or other treatments?