An aneurysm is an abnormal dilation of a blood vessel. This involves all layers of the vessel wall. Aneurysms pose a risk to health due to their potential to rupture, thrombose or embolize. The most common blood vessels involved are the abdominal and thoracic aorta, and brain. Potential blood vessel problems in the brain can be detected by non-invasive techniques, but only if they are above a certain diameter. Some people are born with a malformation of a blood vessel within the brain that leads to a weakness that, in turn, may cause a brain bleed.
Till now, the technique for finding an aneurysm has involved injecting a dye into the blood vessels and imaging the result. Naturally researchers wondered if it would be possible to get the same diagnostic result with a non-invasive method.
A team from Glasgow, Scotland, studied a group of 114 patients undergoing the standard method for detecting aneurysm and also tried a number of non-invasive techniques for comparison. They found if they used all three available tests together, the non-invasive methods gave excellent diagnostic results - unless the aneurysm was small - five millimetres or less. It's a useful step forwards for those at risk of brain bleeding from malformed blood vessels.