What is Aneurysm Clipping?
Aneurysm clipping is a common surgical procedure done to treat brain aneurysms or the bulging of the wall of any of the arteries near the brain. It is possible for a person to live with an undetected aneurysm; however, there are cases when the bulge gets bigger and the arterial wall gets 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. It 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 the bleeding and control the damage caused by cranial bleeding.
The Aneurysm Clipping Procedure
People with aneurysms normally don’t feel any symptom 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 would depend 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 will show where the aneurysm is located and the surgeon will remove a piece of the skull nearest to the affected artery. The surgeon will then retract brain tissues gently in order to reach the artery and place a clip on the neck of the bulge. This will seal off the sac to stop blood from flowing in and will prevent further bleeding and damage to the brain. When the clip is secure, the surgeon will proceed 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 make sure to catch and treat any damage or issue caused by the bleeding.
While the patient is recovering, pain medication may be given if necessary. Nausea and head pain is also a common symptom felt by patients after brain surgery, and medication for this will be given while the patient is still confined in the hospital.
For more information about aneurysms and the aneurysm clipping procedure, call us to schedule an appointment with one of our highly-qualified neurosurgeons.