HealthWACH: Misdiagnosed

HealthWACH: Misdiagnosed


An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery and if it grows to a large size it can burst and cause bleeding or even death even though there may not be any symptoms beforehand. Aneurysms can form in various parts of the body but the most common area is the aorta, the main artery traveling from the heart.

It has been estimated that about half of all aneurysms burst and typically there are no signs up until the aneurysm ruptures. While sudden death would be the most obvious and severe sign of a ruptured aneurysm, other times the signs are mistaken as something else and treatment is not sought. Some signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm are:

  • A sudden extremely painful headache is the most common sign of a ruptured brain aneurysm.

  • Vision changes, eye lid drooping, lethargy, speech impairment and seizures may also be the result of a burst brain aneurysm and some of these signs may also signify a stroke caused by the rupture.

  • Unfortunately, aortic aneurysms tend have more fatal consequences when they rupture than brain aneurysms. More than 90% of ruptured aortic aneurysms are fatal so the best chance of survival is detection of the bulge before it bursts. There usually are no symptoms unless the aneurysm grows large enough that puts pressure on other organs.

    â??If I didnâ??t think that where you got care mattered then it would be very difficult for me to do my job the way I do. This temptation to essentially to be skeptical and not trust the advice youâ??re giving and essentially level the playing field and say that everything is essentially the same. The inconvenient truth is that everything is not the same. And so thereâ??s no question that over the course of my career that Iâ??ve had experiences where, I think, that had that patient arrived in a different hospital at a different time, had a different set of doctors, that the outcome may have been different. I think that we actually have a responsibility in the medical community to educate patients about their options, make them aware that there are solutions to things that maybe in other environments you wouldnâ??t actually find that solution. Iâ??m not at all naïve to think that we can cure every patient of cancer or treat every stroke, but the truth is that there is an art to medicine in addition to the science and I think that there is an advantage to getting care in institutions that are at the leading edge of what that science is. Because then I think you actually have doctors who could be judicious about when you need to be conservative and when itâ??s important, in cases like Daniellaâ??s, to push the envelope because you have an opportunity to save someoneâ??s life.â??