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 they often
have no symptoms until they rupture.
If it’s left untreated, a brain aneurysm could lead to stroke or
brain damage. If an aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured is found, your doctor will
repair it as quickly as possible.
What Are the Symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm?
When a blood vessel is weakened or becomes thin, it can tear or
rupture at any time. If a blood vessel in your brain ruptures, it can cause
bleeding in the brain or stroke. This could lead to brain damage or death.
Because of this, even an aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured is considered a serious
Before an aneurysm ruptures, you could have headaches, eye pain, neck
pain, or you may have no symptoms at all. Because an aneurysm can happen and
show no symptoms, they’re often found by chance when your doctor is looking for
something else. They may appear on an imaging test like an MRI or CT scan.
Symptoms most often arise after the aneurysm has
ruptured. These symptoms may include:
- a severe headache
- a drooping eyelid
- impaired speech
- double vision
- numbness in the body
- muscle weakness
Not all brain aneurysms need to be repaired immediately. Those
smaller than 3 millimeters are considered less likely to rupture.
Risks of Brain Aneurysm Repair
Any medical procedure carries certain risks. Since aneurysm
repair is brain surgery, it does involve significant risk.
Potential risks of brain aneurysm repair include:
- behavior changes due to neurological damage
- 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. They’re not always permanent.
The surgery requires that you undergo general anesthesia, meaning
you’ll be put in 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 overshadows the risks associated with the surgery.
How to Prepare for Brain Aneurysm Repair
Since brain aneurysm repair is done on an emergency basis, there’s
often little time to prepare for it. If your aneurysm is caught before it
becomes an emergency, here 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
- Take any medications your doctor gives you.
- Stop taking any medications your doctor
instructs you not to take.
- Follow all instructions from your doctor.
How a Brain Aneurysm Repair Is Performed
There are several ways surgeons can correct a brain aneurysm. The
method used depends on the size of the aneurysm, among other factors.
Clipping is the most commonly used procedure. During this
procedure, your surgeon makes an incision into your scalp and creates a small
hole in your skull. The surgeon then places a small metal clip at the base of
the aneurysm to prevent it from rupturing. Your skull is then closed and your
scalp is stitched.
During an endovascular repair, your surgeon makes a small
incision near your groin. A second incision is made into your artery. Your
surgeon guides 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, the surgeon installs thin metal wires into the
aneurysm. The wire coils into a ball, which initiates a blood clot. This clot
will prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the
cPAX Aneurysm Treatment System uses a polymer material to stop the blood flow
through the aneurysm. It’s set in place with a permanent stent or by a balloon
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 or MRI scans of your brain in
following appointments to ensure there aren’t any other concerns.
Your treatment following the surgery will focus on the underlying
cause of the aneurysm, such as hardening of the arteries or high blood