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What are the Pros and Cons of Cerebral Aneurysm Surgery?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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The pros and cons of cerebral aneurysm surgery vary based on the individual patient and his or her situation. With any surgery, there are serious risks which should be weighed against the risks of not having the operation. Aneurysm surgery may cause bleeding into the brain, vessel or artery damage, heart attack, or infection. That said, there are great benefits to having cerebral aneurysm surgery for those have an aneurysm that is on the verge of rupture, because it is often the only way to prevent death or severe brain damage.

For very small aneurysms, the use of cerebral aneurysm surgery is generally rare. Small areas may be watched for months or even years to determine how likely it is that the aneurysm will burst. If it does not grow or grows very slowly, the risk associated with surgery are generally more threatening than leaving the aneurysm alone until there is a great chance or rupture. In many cases, growth never occurs and a patient may go his or her entire life without needing invasive medical care.

Slow-growing aneurysms may only require medication rather than risky cerebral aneurysm surgery. This is not always effective and is generally only used in cases where rupture is not considered an immediate risk. If the medication is successful, surgery can often by bypassed and the patient will endure a much shorter recovery period with fewer side effects.

Quick growing aneurysms or those which are in a risky location in the brain, such as in an area that is causing vision changes, extreme pain, or pressing against another vessel or artery, may require cerebral aneurysm surgery. In these severe cases, the risk of watching and waiting may lead to death in the patient since ruptured aneurysms are fatal more than half the time. Surgery in this case is much less risky for the patient than alternative treatment methods.

Some surgeries are riskier than others, and the least invasive method that would be effective is generally the one used. The more complicated the procedure, the more room there is for error and serious complications. In rare cases, severe damage to the brain may occur during surgery. Patients who are in generally poor health or who have underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk of complications during cerebral aneurysm surgery.

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