A cerebral aneurysm is an outpouching of a weakened arterial wall, usually at a bifurcation of one of the larger vessels of the Circle of Willis. When the outpouching ruptures, arterial pressure forces blood into the subarachnoid space. The annual incidence of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage is 8 to 10 per 100 000 in the United States. The outcome varies for this patient population. New management strategies have emerged; some practices are evidence based, whereas others are based on anecdotal experiences. This variation has resulted in a number of unresolved issues in caring for patients with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. This article discusses some of these unresolved issues, including the use of medications such as nimodipine, antifibrinolytics, statins, and magnesium; coiling or clipping for aneurysm securement; and the prevention and treatment of potential complications. Critical care nurses must conduct detailed assessments and provide complex care to optimize patient outcomes.

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