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Brain Aneurysm Repair: What to Expect at Home

Your Recovery

An aneurysm is a bulging, weak section of a blood vessel. Sometimes aneurysms put pressure on nerves. They can also bleed or break open (rupture). A procedure can repair an aneurysm in your brain. This can prevent strokes, bleeding, and brain damage.

During the procedure, the doctor made a small cut (incision) in your groin or wrist. The doctor put a small tube (catheter) through the incision and used X-ray equipment to guide the catheter to the aneurysm in your brain. Then the doctor used a tool, such as a coil, to block the opening to the aneurysm. This prevents blood from entering the aneurysm.

You may feel tired for a few days after the procedure. You'll probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in 3 to 7 days. You may have some bruising around the incision, but you should not have much pain. If you do have pain, your doctor may recommend or prescribe pain medicines.

Your doctor will regularly check the site of your aneurysm. Some people need to have this surgery more than once.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for a day or two. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking.
  • If the catheter was placed in your groin, try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days.
  • If the catheter was placed in your wrist, do not bend your wrist deeply for the first couple of days. Be careful using your hand to get into and out of a chair or bed.
  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.

Diet

  • Follow your doctor's orders about how much fluid you should drink after surgery.
  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. Your doctor will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Care of the catheter site

  • If you have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry.
  • Do not soak the incision until it is healed. Don't take a bath for 1 week, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Watch for bleeding from the incision. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage can be normal.
  • If you are bleeding, lie down and press on the area for 15 minutes to try to make it stop. If the bleeding does not stop, call your doctor or nurse call line or seek immediate medical care.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • It is hard to think, move, speak, or see.
  • Your body is jerking or shaking.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your artery.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
    • A fever.
  • Your leg or hand is painful, looks blue or feels cold, numb, or tingly.
  • You have any sudden vision changes.
  • You have new or worse headaches.
  • You fall and hit your head.
  • You are sleeping more than you are awake.
  • You have a headache and you throw up.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.