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Brain Aneurysm Repair: Before Your Procedure

What is brain aneurysm repair?

An brain aneurysm is a bulging, weak part of a blood vessel. It can put pressure on nerves, bleed, or break open (rupture).

A brain aneurysm can be fixed with a procedure. This procedure can prevent strokes, bleeding, and brain damage.

You may get medicine so you will be asleep during the procedure. Or you may be awake, but you will not feel pain.

The doctor first numbs an area of your groin and makes a small cut. This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor uses a needle to put a small plastic tube through the incision and into a blood vessel. The tube is called a catheter. Using X-ray equipment, the doctor gently guides the catheter through the blood vessel to your brain aneurysm. Then the doctor uses a tool, such as a coil, to fill up the aneurysm or block the opening to the aneurysm. This prevents blood from getting into the aneurysm. Then the doctor removes the catheter and puts a small bandage on the incision.

Sometimes the repair does not work on the first try. If this happens, the doctor may put a tiny tube into the blood vessel near the aneurysm. This tube is called a stent. A stent can help the doctor do another procedure days or weeks later.

You will probably stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days. You may be able to go back to work or your usual routine in 3 to 7 days. But it could take 1 month to fully recover.

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.

What happens before the procedure?

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Having a procedure can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the incision site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The procedure usually takes about 2 hours.
  • After the procedure, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. Then the area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device. This will prevent bleeding.
  • Nurses will check your heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse will also check the catheter site for bleeding.
  • You will need to lie still and keep your leg straight for several hours. The nurse may put a weighted bag on your leg to keep it still.
  • You may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. This is normal and will go away.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

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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.