Microvascular Clipping

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Microvascular clipping is a surgery to cut off blood flow to an aneurysm. This prevents bleeding and rupture. Typically, a portion of the skull is removed (a procedure called a craniotomy) and restored during this complex, open surgery.

Microvascular clipping treats a brain aneurysm. It will not fix already damaged areas of the brain, but it can improve quality of life by stopping bleeding or preventing rupture.

The Microvascular Clipping Procedure

Your appointment before the surgery may include:

  • Physical exam and blood tests
  • Imaging tests — ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan or angiogram
  • Discussion of medications you are taking, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements
  • Discussion of recent illness or other conditions
  • Discussion of risks and benefits of treatment options

Women should let their doctor know if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

What To Expect

Your doctor will perform a craniotomy by removing a small section of the skull to access the brain. X-rays and microscopic viewing may help your doctor find the exact weakened area of the blood vessel. The aneurysm is separated from nearby healthy brain tissue. Your doctor places a titanium clip to clamp off the entire artery to the aneurysm to isolate it from general circulation. The clip will stay in place to permanently prevent bleeding and/or rupture.

Your doctor will replace the section of skull and stitch your scalp back into place. The procedure takes about 3-5 hours. You should expect to stay in the hospital between 4-6 days.

Potential Complications

Your doctor will review potential complications, like:

  • Weakness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Speech disturbances
  • Visual changes
  • Confusion, memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Kidney damage
  • Blood clots
  • Ruptured aneurysm during surgery

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.