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What are the Pros and Cons of Brain Aneurysm Surgery?

By Eric Stolze
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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A brain aneurysm, or cerebral aneurysm, is a ballooning or excessive widening of a blood vessel in the brain. Bleeding from a ruptured blood vessel is a medical emergency in most cases and is typically treated with brain aneurysm surgery. Some of the pros or advantages of this procedure include stopping the bleeding and keeping an aneurysm from growing further. The cons or risks include the possibility of an increase in the amount of bleeding, damage to brain tissue and the development of a stroke.

Aneurysm clipping is a form of brain aneurysm surgery that a physician typically uses in order to clip a blood vessel across the neck of an aneurysm. This clipping usually results in a stoppage of bleeding from a ruptured aneurysm. In some cases, an unruptured aneurysm may be discovered during a medical test such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Some surgeons may treat unruptured aneurysms with clipping. In some instances, patients may undergo this type of brain aneurysm surgery after arriving in an emergency room of a hospital following a rupture.

During aneurysm clipping, a surgeon often performs a craniotomy by drilling a hole in the patient’s skull to allow access to the aneurysm. After gaining control over the flow of blood through an aneurysm, a doctor attaches a clip to the blood vessel in most cases. The surgeon generally closes the craniotomy after the clip is successfully in place. An individual may remain in an intensive care unit for a few days to a few weeks after surgery and undergo close monitoring in order to identify any complications.

In some cases, patients may develop complications after brain aneurysm surgery such as a stroke or seizure as well as bleeding. Patients who are allergic to anesthesia may develop an allergic reaction after surgery. In most cases, aneurysms do not grow back after they have been surgically clipped. Patients who have experienced brain damage from a ruptured aneurysm may regain their brain functions within a few months or years following surgery in some instances.

A less invasive form of brain aneurysm surgery is endovascular aneurysm coiling. During this procedure, a surgeon generally inserts a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin and threads it through the patient’s bloodstream until the aneurysm is reached. A wire coil in the catheter is usually inserted into the aneurysm to stop the flow of blood and encourage blood clotting. This less invasive form of treatment may be safer than surgical clipping for some patients, but it may also increase the risk of postoperative bleeding.

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Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Jan 26, 2014

I guess it all boils down to the best procedure for the individual patient's condition, where in the brain the aneurysm is located, etc. Anytime a surgeon is dealing with the brain, there are always going to be difficulties and trade-offs.

I wonder if the gamma knife procedure has any value in treating deep brain aneurysms since it is extremely precise and used for removing deep brain tumors that would otherwise be inoperable.

This is one of those situations where a decision may have a murky outcome. I do not envy anyone who is consulting with a surgeon about this kind of procedure – or their families.

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