Stent placement is a common procedure to treat a brain aneurysm. It diverts blood flow to avoid extra pressure on the aneurysm that may cause it to burst.

A brain aneurysm develops when there is a weak spot on a blood vessel in the brain, and blood starts to pool in the area. An aneurysm does not always need treatment, but there is a risk that an aneurysm can burst.

Researchers estimate that about 1% of brain aneurysms will burst and bleed into the brain.

One common way that doctors treat a brain aneurysm is by placing a stent. This is a short metal or plastic mesh tube that redirects blood away from the aneurysm, preventing further pressure that may cause it to rupture. When this stops blood from reaching the aneurysm, the aneurysm will start to shrink.

This article explains what a brain stent is, how it helps an aneurysm, and the procedure for fitting it. It also explains the benefits and potential risks and the overall recovery time after the procedure.

up close image of a stentShare on Pinterest
Getty Images

An aneurysm in the brain is at risk of bursting and bleeding. To prevent this, a surgeon can place a stent at the site of the aneurysm. This takes the pressure off the aneurysm and allows blood to flow around it safely.

A stent consists of a flexible mesh material. After surgery, as the blood vessel heals, the vessel walls absorb the stent and it creates a stronger pathway for blood to flow. The blood that makes up the aneurysm will eventually clot and dissolve.

How long does it last?

Surgeons originally used stents to help them place a coil to block blood flow to an aneurysm. Over time, doctors discovered that they could use the stent itself to treat an aneurysm, especially larger ones that may not be appropriate for other treatments.

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first stent to treat brain aneurysms. Since the use of a stent for a brain aneurysm is a fairly new treatment approach, there is not a lot of long-term data to know how long a brain stent will last.

A person should have regular follow-ups with their healthcare team.

Learn more about aneurysms here.

A stent is a minimally invasive procedure. A properly placed stent significantly reduces the risk of the aneurysm bursting.

A stent is usually the best option for larger aneurysms. The hospital stay after a stent procedure is much shorter than an open procedure. Most people are back to standard activities within a few weeks.

Learn more about stents here.

There are possible risks for any procedure. Placing a stent changes blood flow, and this creates a potential risk for a blood clot, which can result in a stroke. To reduce this risk, a person may take a blood thinner after surgery to reduce the risk of a blood clot.

When a person has received a stent, doctors will carefully monitor it in the weeks and months after the placement to check blood flow. As cells grow and repair the blood vessel around the stent, the stent becomes part of the blood vessel.

Before the surgeon starts the procedure, a doctor sedates the person. Surgeons use a type of imaging known as angiography. This allows the surgeon to visualize the whole procedure and the blood vessels.

The body has a complex network of blood vessels. To reach the blood vessel in the brain, the surgeon first guides a catheter through a small incision in the groin area. Once the catheter is in place, they use a guide wire with the stent at the end to place it at the site of the aneurysm.

The surgeon positions the stent to support normal blood flow through the area with the aneurysm. It prevents blood from continuing to gather in the aneurysm.

Once the surgeon confirms the position of the stent with imaging, they remove the catheter, and someone takes the person to a recovery area.

Learn more about the stent procedure here.

When the stent is in the proper position, it flows blood away from the aneurysm straight away. A person may only stay in the hospital for a day or two after the procedure.

The incision site in the groin can be sore and bruised. People are often back to normal activities within a week or two.

A brain stent is a minimally invasive procedure that doctors use to treat brain aneurysms. Although the procedure is fairly new, there are generally good outcomes.

One study using a specific type of stent showed that it fully diverted blood flow away from the aneurysm in 92.1% of people by 36 months after the surgery. The same study showed that only 5.6% of people had major complications within 180 days of surgery.

Blood clots are a risk after surgery. A study of people up to three years after brain stent placement showed that 97.4% of blood vessels with a stent did not have significant narrowing.

The treatment for a brain aneurysm mainly depends on its location and size, as well as the person’s individual health history.

Some aneurysms do not need treatment right away. If a doctor considers a small aneurysm low risk, they will monitor it over time to see if it gets bigger.

In other cases, a person, along with their healthcare team, may decide that the aneurysm needs treatment.

Other treatments for a brain aneurysm are microvascular clipping and coil embolization.

Microvascular clipping is an open surgery where the surgeon places tiny clips on blood vessels to block blood flow to the aneurysm.

Coil embolization is a less invasive procedure where the surgeon places coils into the aneurysm to block blood flow. A surgeon uses a catheter to place the coils, similar to how they place a stent.

A brain stent is one approach to treating a brain aneurysm. Brain aneurysms are at risk of rupturing if there is continued blood flow in the area. A stent directs blood away from the aneurysm and creates a new, healthy passage for blood.

This is minimally invasive surgery. Regular follow-up in the weeks and months after surgery will allow the surgeon to check the health of the person’s blood vessels and the stent.