What is an Aneurysm Clipping?
An aneurysm clipping is a common surgical procedure done to treat brain aneurysms, or bulging of the walls of any of the arteries near the brain. While it is possible for a person to live with an undetected aneurysm, there are cases where a bulge can become bigger. This causes the arterial wall to become thinner, making it possible for it to leak or rupture, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage or bleeding in the brain. If caught early, an aneurysm can be treated effectively with little to no harm to the patient. Clipping is done to keep blood away from the bulge or sac, to prevent it from rupturing or leaking. Clipping can still be performed even when the aneurysm has already begun to rupture, in order to stop bleeding and control any damage caused by cranial bleeding.
The Aneurysm Clipping Procedure
People with aneurysms normally don’t feel any symptoms, unless the bulge in the arterial wall has begun to leak or rupture. In most cases, intact aneurysms are detected by accident. Once spotted, the neurosurgeon will determine whether or not to perform surgery on the aneurysm. This decision depends on the size and location of the bulge, and if there is a risk for the aneurysm to rupture. In cases where the bulge has begun to leak, an emergency clipping procedure is done immediately, to stop the bleeding and regulate blood flow to the arteries.
Aneurysm clipping is a surgical procedure that involves performing a craniotomy, or creating an opening in the patient’s skull. A patient undergoing this procedure is put under general anesthesia for the duration of the operation. A pre-operative MRI shows where the aneurysm is located, and the surgeon removes a piece of the skull nearest to the affected artery. The surgeon then gently retracts brain tissues in order to reach the artery, and places a clip on the neck of the bulge. This seals off the sac to stop blood from flowing in, and prevents further bleeding and damage to the brain. When the clip is secure, the surgeon proceeds to close the opening in the skull using an MRI-compatible bone plate. The clip is left inside permanently, but there’s no need to worry, because like the bone plate, most aneurysm clips are also compatible with MRIs.
Post-Operative Expectations and Recovery
After surgery, a patient is transferred to intensive care for monitoring, for roughly one or two days. Once the surgeon gives the go-signal, the patient is then transferred to a private room for further observation. In cases where an emergency clipping is done to treat a ruptured aneurysm, monitoring in the ICU may last for up to 2-3 weeks, to ensure that any damage or issues caused by the bleeding are caught and properly treated.
While the patient is recovering, pain medication may be given if necessary. Nausea and head pain are also common symptoms felt by patients after brain surgery, and medication for this can be given while the patient is still confined in the hospital.
Call us today for more information about aneurysms and the aneurysm clipping procedure, or to schedule an appointment with one of our highly-qualified neurosurgeons.