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 along the surface of the brain. This is 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. After you go home, follow your health care provider's instructions on how to care for yourself. Use the information below as a reminder.
When You're in the Hospital
You likely had one of two types of surgery:
- Open craniotomy, during which the surgeon makes an opening in your skull to place a clip on the neck of the aneurysm.
- Endovascular repair, during which the surgeon 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 might have some short- or long-term problems. These may be mild or severe. For many people, these problems get better 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.
What to expect after craniotomy and placement of a clip:
- 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 provider which daily activities are safe for you to do.
Make plans to have help at home while you recover.
Follow a healthy lifestyle, such as:
- If you have high blood pressure, keep it under control. Be sure to take the medicines your provider prescribed for you.
- Do not smoke.
- Ask your provider if it is OK for you to drink alcohol.
- Ask your provider when it is OK to start sexual activity.
Take your seizure medicine if any was prescribed for you. You may be referred to a speech, physical, or occupational therapist to help you recover from any brain damage.
If the surgeon had to put a catheter in through your groin (endovascular surgery), it is OK 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 OK to do so.
Your 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 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Make sure to follow-up with your surgeon's office within 2 weeks of being discharged from the hospital.
Ask your surgeon if you need long-term follow-up and tests, including CT scans, MRIs, or angiograms of your head.
If you had a cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) shunt placed, you will need regular follow-ups to make sure it functions well.
When to Call the Doctor
Contact your surgeon if you have:
- A severe headache or a headache that gets worse and you feel dizzy
- A stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye pain
- Problems with your eyesight (from blindness to peripheral vision problems to double vision)
- Speech problems
- 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, contact your surgeon 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
Aneurysm repair - cerebral - discharge; Cerebral aneurysm repair - discharge; Coiling - discharge; Saccular aneurysm repair - discharge; Berry aneurysm repair - discharge; Fusiform aneurysm repair - discharge; Dissecting aneurysm repair - discharge; Endovascular aneurysm repair - discharge; Aneurysm clipping - discharge
Bershad EM, Suarez JI. Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. In: Grotta JC, Albers GW, Broderick JP, et al, eds. Stroke. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 29.
Connolly ES Jr, Rabinstein AA, Carhuapoma JR, et al. Guidelines for the management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: a guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2012;43(6):1711-1737. PMID: 22556195 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22556195/.
Endovascular Today website. Leacy RD, Yaniv G, Nael K. Cerebral aneurysm follow-up: How standards have changed and why. A perspective on the optimal follow-up frequency and imaging modality type for treated cerebral aneurysms. February 2019. evtoday.com/articles/2019-feb/cerebral-aneurysm-follow-up-how-standards-have-changed-and-why. Accessed November 18, 2022.
Szeder V, Tateshima S, Jahan R, Saver JL, Duckwiler GR. Intracranial aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhage. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 67.
Review Date 7/17/2022
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS (C), FACS, Department of Surgery, Johnson City Medical Center, TN; Department of Surgery St-Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck, ND; Department of Neurosurgery Fort Sanders Medical Center, Knoxville, TN, Department of Neurosurgery UPMC Williamsport PA, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.