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 risk of bursting. It can leak blood and cause a stroke or bleeding along the surface of the brain (also called a subarachnoid hemorrhage).
You may have had surgery to prevent bleeding or to treat the aneurysm after it bled. The two types of surgery are:
Open craniotomy (a hole is made in your skull to place a clip on the base of the aneurysm)
Endovascular repair (the doctor can do 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 neurological problems. These may be mild or severe. For many people, these problems will decrease over time or go away.
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 - 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 such permanent problems as speech problems, trouble 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 or go away soon.
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 for advice.
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. If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about when it is okay to start again. Ask your doctor when it is okay 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 - 3 days. Do not do yard work, drive, or play sports for at least 2 days -- or when your doctor says it is okay to do so.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when your dressing should be changed. Do not take a bath or swim for 1 week. If you have bleeding, lie down and put pressure on the incision site for 30 minutes.
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 degrees °F 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 imaging, including CT scans or MRIs of your head.
If you had a cerebral spinal fluid shunt placed after aneurysm surgery, you will need regular follow-ups to make sure it functions well.
Bederson JB, Connolly ES Jr, Batjer HH, Dacey RG, Dion JE, Diringer MN, Duldner JE Jr, Harbaugh RE, Patel AB, Rosenwasser RH; American Heart Association. Guidelines for the management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: a statement for healthcare professionals from a special writing group of the Stroke Council, American Heart Association. Stroke. 2009 Mar;40(3):994-1025. Epub 2009 Jan 22. Review. Erratum in: Stroke. 2009 Jul;40(7):e518.
Meyers PM, Schumacher HC, Higashida RT, Barnwell SL, Creager MA, Gupta R, McDougall CG, Pandey DK, Sacks D, Wechsler LR; American Heart Association. Indications for the performance of intracranial endovascular neurointerventional procedures: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention, Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia, Interdisciplinary Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease, and Interdisciplinary Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. Circulation. 2009 Apr 28;119(16):2235-49. Epub 2009 Apr 6.
Gasco J, Mohanty A, Hanbali F, Patterson JT. Neurosurgey. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 68.
Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Inc.