Clipping is a surgical procedure to treat a brain aneurysm. An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery which usually causes no problems unless it ruptures. Clipping is performed once the aneurysm has reached a large size and may burst, or after it has already ruptured.
During the clipping procedure, a surgeon performs a craniotomy to access the area inside your skull. He or she locates the aneurysm and places a metal clip at its base, much like pinching closed the opening of a balloon. The clip stays inside you permanently. After a successful surgery, there is very little risk that the aneurysm will grow back with the proper lifestyle adjustments.
Goal of Clipping
A burst intracranial aneurysm creates a hole in the wall of the aneurysm located near the brain. As a result, blood leaks out into the surrounding areas, including the brain. This is a medical emergency that has a high risk of causing disability or death. Clipping is intended to close up the hole. Successful clipping prevents the aneurysm from bursting or, if it has already ruptured, stops it from bursting again.
How Clipping Is Performed
In order to close the aneurysm, a neurosurgeon must go inside your head. You will be placed under general anesthesia and remain asleep during the procedure. Your doctor will create an opening in your head, called a craniotomy. Using a microscope, your surgeon will locate the aneurysm, which is often underneath the brain. The surgical team will control blood flow in the artery in order to prevent rupture of the aneurysm while surgery is ongoing.
Although the walls of the artery are thinner at the site of the aneurysm, connective tissue still holds it fast to the artery. Your surgeon must separate this connective tissue in order to access the neck of the aneurysm sac, which you can think of being like the narrow end of a birthday balloon.
The doctor will make a close inspection to make sure no vital arteries are removed or included at the neck of the artery in order to ensure regular blood flow continues. Finally, the doctor places a metal clip, something like a clothespin, across the neck of the aneurysm. After the doctor checks to make sure no blood is flowing past the clip into the aneurysm sac, he or she will close up your head.
Recovery Timeline for Clipping Procedure
Your hospital stay after a clipping procedure depends on whether you were admitted in an emergency situation. If your aneurysm burst before clipping, you may be in the hospital for two to three weeks, or even longer. During this time, your medical team will monitor you closely for side effects from the ruptured aneurysm. If your aneurysm has not burst, you can expect a hospital stay of three to five days.
During the procedure or sometimes after the procedure, the medical team will do imaging tests using an angiogram to assess the blood flow in your arteries. You can expect to experience headaches, nausea and fatigue in the days after the surgery, as your body heals from the craniotomy and the clipping procedure. However, you can also expect to receive medications to alleviate pain and support your healing.
Why Choose Neurosurgeons of New Jersey?
Clipping is a very precise and detailed procedure. At Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, each one of our physicians focuses on a particular field of study. You can feel confident that the person fixing your aneurysm practices not just in the broad specialty of neurosurgery, but is also highly experienced with repairing arteries near the brain using the clipping procedure.
Our team believes communication and understanding are important aspects of quality medical care. Brain aneurysm repair is a stressful experience for patients and their families. At every stage in the hospitalization and recovery process, we are available to answer all of your questions and give you as much information as possible so you feel comfortable with the treatment you receive.