What is Brain Aneurysm Repair?
Brain aneurysm repair is a surgical procedure used to treat a bulging blood vessel in the brain that’s at risk of rupturing or tearing open.
An aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel becomes thin and bulges or balloons out. Many aneurysms remain undetected because someone may not experience any symptoms until they rupture.
A brain aneurysm could lead to stroke or brain damage if it’s not treated. If your doctor finds an aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured, they will likely recommend repairing it as quickly as possible.
The purpose of brain aneurysm repair is to treat aneurysms.
When is Brain Aneurysm Repair needed?
Not all brain aneurysms need to be repaired immediately. The likelihood of a brain aneurysm rupturing depends on your age, medical history, the size of the aneurysm, and its location. Generally, smaller aneurysms and aneurysms found in the arteries toward the front side of the brain are less likely to rupture. Those smaller than 7 millimeters are considered less likely to rupture. Your doctor will still likely recommend close follow-up to make sure the aneurysm is not getting larger.
What should you know before undergoing Brain Aneurysm Repair?
Brain aneurysms can be treated using surgery if they’ve burst (ruptured) or there’s a risk they will.
Preventative surgery is usually only recommended if there’s a high risk of a rupture. This is because surgery has its own risk of potentially serious complications, such as brain damage or stroke.
If you’re diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm, a risk assessment will be carried out to assess whether surgery is necessary.
The assessment process is usually based on the following factors:
- Your age – research has found the risks associated with surgery in older adults often outweigh the potential benefits (extending natural lifespan)
- The size of the aneurysm – aneurysms larger than 7mm often require surgical treatment, as do aneurysms larger than 3mm in cases where there are other risk factors
- The location of the aneurysm – brain aneurysms located on larger blood vessels have a higher risk of rupture
- Family history – brain aneurysms are considered to have a higher risk of rupturing if you have a history of ruptured brain aneurysm in your family
- Underlying health conditions – some health conditions increase the risk of a rupture, such as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (adpkd) or poorly controlled high blood pressure
After these factors have been taken into consideration, your surgical team should be able to tell you whether the benefits of surgery outweigh the potential risks in your case.
What are the complications and side effects?
You will probably feel very tired for several weeks after this surgery. You may also have headaches or problems concentrating for 1 to 2 weeks. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to fully recover.
The incisions may be sore for about 5 days after surgery. You may also have numbness and shooting pains near your wound, or swelling and bruising around your eyes. As your wound starts to heal, it may begin to itch. Medicines and ice packs can help with headaches, pain, swelling, and itching.
Your scalp may swell with fluid. After the swelling goes down, you may have a dent in your head.
Any medical procedure carries certain risks. Since aneurysm repair is brain surgery, there’s a chance it may result in serious complications such as:
- Behavior changes due to neurological injury
- Blood clots
- Brain swelling
- Speech and vision problems
Some neurological problems, such as those affecting memory, coordination, or other functions may be present after surgery. They can vary in severity and they’re not always permanent.
The surgery requires that you undergo general anesthesia. This means you’ll be put into a deep sleep. If you’ve ever had a reaction to anesthesia, like breathing problems, make sure to tell your doctor.
In almost all cases, the risk of not having brain aneurysm repair greatly outweighs the risks associated with the surgery.
It is important you understand the precautions and know the possible complication and side effects before having this Brain Aneurysm Repair. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
How do I prepare for Brain Aneurysm Repair?
Brain aneurysm repair is done on an emergency basis so there’s often little time to prepare for it. If your doctor catches your aneurysm before it becomes an emergency, there are some important steps to take:
- Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements.
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
- Don’t eat or drink anything eight hours before the procedure.
- Take any medications your doctor gives you.
- Stop taking any medications your doctor instructs you not to take.
- Follow all other instructions from your doctor.
What happens during Brain Aneurysm Repair?
The length of brain aneurysm repair depends on many factors such the surgical method and the severity of the aneurysm and may take hours. Hospital stay also varies, ranging from 1 day to 1 week.
There are several ways surgeons can correct a brain aneurysm. The method the surgeon uses depends on the size, shape, and location of the aneurysm, among other factors.
During this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision into your scalp and create a small hole in your skull. The surgeon will then place a small metal clip at the base of the aneurysm to prevent it from rupturing. They will then close your skull and stitch your scalp.
During an endovascular repair, your surgeon will insert a small wire into an artery in your groin. Your surgeon will guide a small wire through that incision and through the artery that leads to the aneurysm in your brain. A catheter, which is a thin tube, follows the wire. Through this tube, your surgeon will install thin metal wires into the aneurysm. The wire will coil into a ball and initiate a blood clot. This clot will prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.
What happens after Brain Aneurysm Repair?
Your hospital stay may only be a few days if there was no bleeding in your brain before surgery. Your stay could be one to two weeks if there were complications.
Brain aneurysm repair typically doesn’t involve any other surgeries, but your doctor may want to repeat CT scans or MRI of your brain in following appointments to ensure there aren’t any other concerns.
Your treatment following surgery will focus on the underlying cause of the aneurysm, such as hardening of the arteries or high blood pressure.
If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
What should you do after Brain Aneurysm Repair?
Make plans to have help at home while you recover.
Follow a healthy lifestyle, such as:
- If you have high blood pressure, keep it under control. Be sure to take the medicines your provider prescribed for you.
- DO NOT smoke.
- Ask your provider if it is OK for you to drink alcohol.
- Ask your provider when it is OK to start sexual activity.
- Take your seizure medicine if any was prescribed for you. Your doctor may refer you to a speech, physical, or occupational therapist to help you recover from any brain damage.
If the doctor put a catheter in through your groin (endovascular surgery), it is okay to walk short distances on a flat surface. Limit going up and down stairs to around 2 times a day for 2 to 3 days. DO NOT do yard work, drive, or play sports until your doctor says it is OK to do so.
Your provider will tell you when your dressing should be changed. DO NOT take a bath or swim for 1 week.
If you have a small amount of bleeding from the incision, lie down and put pressure where it bleeds for 30 minutes.
Be sure you understand any instructions about taking medicines such as blood thinners (anticoagulants), aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Call your doctor if you have:
- A severe headache or a headache that gets worse and you feel dizzy
- A stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye pain
- Problems with your eyesight (from blindness to peripheral vision problems to double vision)
- Speech problems
- Problems thinking or understanding
- Problems noticing things around you
- Changes in your behavior
- Feel weak or lose consciousness
- Loss of balance or coordination or loss of muscle use
- Weakness or numbness of an arm, leg, or your face.
Also, call your doctor if you have:
- Bleeding at the incision site that does not go away after you apply pressure
- An arm or leg that changes color, becomes cool to touch, or becomes numb
- Redness, pain, or yellow or green discharge in or around the incision site
- A fever higher than 38.3°C or chills
Make sure to follow-up with your surgeon’s office within 2 weeks of being discharged from the hospital.
Ask your doctor if you need long-term follow-up and tests, including CT scans or MRIs of your head.
If you had a cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) shunt placed after aneurysm surgery, you will need regular follow-ups to make sure it functions well.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Brain Aneurysm Surgery (Clipping): What to Expect at Home. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=zy1499. Accessed June 29, 2018.
Brain aneurysm repair. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007372.htm. Accessed June 29, 2018.
Brain aneurysm repair - discharge. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000123.htm. Accessed June 29, 2018.
Brain Aneurysm Repair. https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-aneurysm-repair#preparation. Accessed June 29, 2018.
Brain aneurysm. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/brain-aneurysm/treatment/#surgery-and-procedures. Accessed June 29, 2018.
Review Date: September 9, 2018 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019