You had a brain aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weak area in the wall of a blood vessel that bulges or balloons out. Once it reaches a certain size, it has a high chance of bursting. It can leak blood and cause bleeding along the surface of the brain. This is also called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Sometimes bleeding can occur inside the brain.
You had surgery to prevent the aneurysm from bleeding or to treat the aneurysm after it bled. There are two types of surgery:
Open craniotomy, during which the doctor makes a hole in your skull to place a clip on the base of the aneurysm.
Endovascular repair, during which the doctor does surgery on areas of your body through a blood vessel.
What to Expect at Home
If you had bleeding before, during, or after surgery you may have some short- or long-term problems. These may be mild or severe. For many people, these problems decrease over time.
If you had either type of surgery you may:
Feel sad, angry, or very nervous. This is normal.
Have had a seizure and will take medicine to prevent another one.
Have headaches that may continue for a while. This is common.
It will take 3 to 6 weeks to fully recover. If you had bleeding from your aneurysm this may take longer. You may feel tired for up to 12 or more weeks.
If you had a stroke or brain injury from the bleeding, you may have permanent problems such as trouble with speech or thinking, muscle weakness, or numbness.
Problems with your memory are common, but these may improve.
You may feel dizzy or confused, or your speech may not be normal after the surgery. If you did not have any bleeding, these problems should get better.
What to expect after endovascular repair:
You may have pain in your groin area.
You may have some bruising around and below the incision.
You may be able to start daily activities, such as driving a car, within 1 or 2 weeks if you did not have any bleeding. Ask your doctor which daily activities are safe for you to do.
Make plans to have help at home while you recover.
Follow a healthy lifestyle.
If you have high blood pressure, keep it under control.
DO NOT smoke.
Ask your doctor if it is OK for you to drink alcohol.
Ask your doctor when it is OK to start sexual activity.
Take your seizure medicine if any was prescribed for you. Your doctor may refer you to a speech, physical, or occupational therapist to help you recover from any brain damage.
If the doctor put a catheter in through your groin (endovascular surgery), it is okay to walk short distances on a flat surface. Limit going up and down stairs to around 2 times a day for 2 to 3 days. DO NOT do yard work, drive, or play sports until your doctor says it is okay to do so.
Your health care provider will tell you when your dressing should be changed. DO NOT take a bath or swim for 1 week.
If you have a small amount of bleeding from the incision, lie down and put pressure where it bleeds for 30 minutes.
Be sure you understand any instructions about taking medicines such as blood thinners (anticoagulants), aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if you have:
A severe headache or a headache that gets worse and you feel dizzy
A stiff neck
Nausea and vomiting
Problems with your eyesight (from blindness to peripheral vision problems to double vision)
Problems thinking or understanding
Problems noticing things around you
Changes in your behavior
Feel weak or lose consciousness
Loss of balance or coordination or loss of muscle use
Weakness or numbness of an arm, leg, or your face.
Also, call your doctor if you have:
Bleeding at the incision site that does not go away after you apply pressure
An arm or leg that changes color, becomes cool to touch, or becomes numb
Redness, pain, or yellow or green discharge in or around the incision site
A fever higher than 101°F (38.3°C) or chills
Make sure to follow-up with your surgeon's office within 2 weeks of being discharged from the hospital.
Ask your doctor if you need long-term follow-up and tests, including CT scans or MRIs of your head.
If you had a cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) shunt placed after aneurysm surgery, you will need regular follow-ups to make sure it functions well.
Connolly ES Jr, Rabinstein AA, Carhuapoma JR, et al. American Heart Association Stroke Council; Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia; Council on Clinical Cardiology. Guidelines for the management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: a guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2012;43:1711-1737. PMID: 22556195 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22556195.
Tateshima S, Duckwiler G. Vascular diseases of the nervous system: intracranial aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhage. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 51C.
Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery Providence Hospital, Medford, OR, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, and Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.