Our artery walls are under constant pressure from the amount of blood coursing through them. If an area of an artery wall weakens, blood opportunistically can push outward in that area. The bulge in the artery is an aneurysm. The danger with an aneurysm is that it can continue to grow and eventually burst. Should that happen, blood would spill into the brain. This causes a hemorrhagic stroke, a medical emergency that can lead to disability or death.
An aneurysm can be clipped to stem its potential growth. Aneurysm clipping is a successful way to prevent an aneurysm from bursting and to separate it from adjacent, properly functioning arteries without damaging them.
Our board-certified neurosurgeons at Texan Neurosurgery perform aneurysm clipping surgery.
When is aneurysm clipping used?
This procedure can be performed on a ruptured or unruptured aneurysm.
A ruptured aneurysm is an emergency situation to hopefully prevent serious damage to the brain or even death. If it is deemed that a clip could be successful in stemming the blood flow, it is placed.
Unruptured aneurysms are serious, but they don’t typically create a medical emergency. They are often found incidentally or as part of a screening program for patients with a family history of aneurysms. All unruptured aneurysms don’t necessarily mean we will perform clipping. We consult with the patient, weighing the potential risks involved with surgery versus the potential risks of rupture. If the rupture risk is moderate or great, clipping surgery is likely.
How is an aneurysm clipping performed?
In aneurysm clipping, the patient is under general anesthesia and the head is placed into a three-pin skull fixation device. A portion of the skull is shaved, and an incision is made. Once the skull has been uncovered, a craniotomy, or opening in the skull, will be made to allow access to the dura mater, the protective coating surrounding the brain.
Next, the dura mater is carefully opened to expose the brain. Once the aneurysm has been located, and its blood flow has been successfully controlled, a clip is placed along the neck of the aneurysm where it bulges away from the artery. Once we’re sure the clip is not obstructing any nearby arteries, the dura mater is sutured closed, and the bone of the skull is reattached with titanium plates and screws. The scalp is then sutured back together to end the procedure.