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Brain Aneurysm Repair

Medically reviewed by Ramin AmirNovin, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen on February 16, 2023

A brain aneurysm is a medical disorder in which a brain artery’s wall becomes weak and bulges into a balloon or irregular shape. Although this may sound dangerous, very few aneurysms actually become symptomatic or burst open. 


If an aneurysm does burst open, however, this is called a rupture, and needs to be dealt with immediately. A rupture causes bleeding in the brain, that can lead to disability and death if not treated soon enough. But this can be avoided if the aneurysm is repaired as soon as it’s detected (although not all aneurysms need medical attention). 


So how is it done?


The two methods of brain aneurysm repair


A brain aneurysm, either ruptured or unruptured, can be repaired through two different methods:


  • Surgical clipping, where the skull is opened and a metal clip is fitted around the base of the aneurysm to close it off. The clip halts blood flow, rendering the aneurysm unable to burst. This procedure is considered very invasive. 
  • Endovascular coiling, which involves using a tube and coil to block blood flow to the aneurysm. The tube is inserted into an artery and is guided to the site of the aneurysm. Then the coil is pushed into the tube. Once the coil makes its way to the aneurysm, it creates a blood clot. Endovascular coiling is the more common method and is considered less invasive.


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Cerebral Aneurysm - Treatment Options

Cerebral Aneurysm - Treatment Options

Which procedure is right for me?


If you or a loved one needs to undergo a brain aneurysm repair, you may wonder which method of surgery is more effective. Well, this kind of question can’t be answered so easily. Only a qualified neurosurgeon can advise you on which method to choose, since there are many factors at play with an aneurysm. 


However, you can learn about the pros and cons of each procedure, so you’ll be well-informed if ever the need should arise to help make such decisions with your doctor.


Surgical clipping

Pros: Generally more effective; aneurysm not likely to rupture again after procedure is complete

Cons: Invasive procedure; requires long recovery period


Endovascular coiling


Pros: Less recovery time; effectively treats most aneurysms

Cons: Aneurysm may grow back; follow-up appointments needed


Risks of brain aneurysm repair


All brain surgeries carry risks. But a brain aneurysm can be deadly, so the risks of surgery are usually justified in such a case. Nonetheless, complications can arise, such as:


  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain swelling


Neurological problems can also occur, such as:


  • Changes in behavior
  • Problems with speech, vision, or memory
  • Confusion
  • Weakness of the limbs
  • Numbness
  • Problems with balance or coordination


What can I do to prepare for surgery?


Most brain aneurysm repairs are done in emergency situations. But in some cases, a brain scan will detect an aneurysm that needs to be taken care of. In this scenario, you would meet with your doctor and schedule a procedure. Before the surgery, you will likely need to:


  • Quit smoking
  • Take medications as instructed
  • Inform your doctor of any medications that you’re taking
  • Follow your doctor’s advice on eating and drinking
  • Tell your doctor if you’re using a lot of alcohol or any recreational drugs


Brain surgery is always scary, but educating yourself and working with your doctor can help to alleviate your fears.


Written by Natan Rosenfeld

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