Brain surgery is an operation to treat problems in the brain and surrounding structures.
Before surgery, the hair on part of the scalp is shaved and the area is cleaned. The doctor makes a surgical cut through the scalp. The location of this cut depends on where the problem in the brain is located.
The surgeon creates a hole in the skull and removes a bone flap.
If possible, the surgeon will make a smaller hole and insert a tube with a light and camera on the end. This is called an endoscope. The surgery will be done with tools placed through the endoscope. MRI or CT scan can help guide the doctor to the proper place in the brain.
During surgery, your surgeon may:
The bone flap is usually replaced after surgery, using small metal plates, sutures, or wires. The bone flap may not be put back if your surgery involved a tumor or an infection, or if the brain was swollen. (This is called a craniectomy.)
The time it takes for the surgery depends on the problem being treated.
Brain surgery may be done if you have:
Risks for any anesthesia are:
Possible risks of brain surgery are:
Your doctor will examine you, and may order laboratory and x-ray tests.
Tell your doctor or nurse:
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
After surgery, you will be closely monitored by your health care team to make sure your brain is working properly. The doctor or nurse may ask you questions, shine a light in your eyes, and ask you to do simple tasks. You may need oxygen for a few days.
The head of your bed will be kept raised to help reduce swelling of your face or head. The swelling is normal after surgery.
Medicines will be given to relieve pain.
You will usually stay in the hospital for 3 to 7 days. You may need physical therapy (rehabilitation).
How well you do after brain surgery depends on the condition being treated, your general health, which part of the brain is involved, and the specific type of surgery.
Craniotomy; Surgery - brain; Neurosurgery; Craniectomy; Stereotactic craniotomy; Stereotactic brain biopsy; Endoscopic craniotomy
Gasco J, Mohanty A, Hanbali F, Patterson JT. Neurosurgey. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 68.
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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