Many patients are left with psychological symptoms after surgery for a ruptured intracranial aneurysm. Often the reason for these symptoms is not clear. A prospective study was carried out of 27 patients who were in a good (Grade 1 or 2) condition before operation to identify the origin of such symptoms and discover whether the basic techniques of aneurysm surgery could lead to serious psychological sequelae even in the absence of any specific complication. Each patient was given a modified psychometric assessment just before surgery and at the time of discharge from hospital. One year later a full psychometric and social assessment was carried out. Even a temporary worsening of psychometric performance did not occur unless there had been some specific surgical or post-operative problem. Five patients showed worsening of psychometric performance in the immediate post-operative period but by one year, only two of the 27 patients showed any abnormalities on formal psychometric evaluation; in both, clear reasons were evident. Although the majority of patients reported minor psychological symptoms, these had not hindered full functional recovery, and we doubt whether they had any organic basis. It is concluded that aneurysm surgery does not, itself, threaten higher intellectual function unless some specific complication occurs.
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