- Burr hole—A small hole is made in the skull
- Traditional craniotomy—A piece of skull is cut out and then put back after surgery
- Stereotaxy—A computer is used to help find where things are in the brain during surgery
- Awake craniotomy—The patient is awake during part of the surgery
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Reasons for Procedure
- Biopsy —to obtain a brain tissue sample
- Brain cancer
- Head trauma
- Blood clot in the brain
- Blood vessel problems with the brain
- Nerve disorders
- Brain swelling
- Brain infection
- Brain swelling
Damage to your brain which may cause:
- Changes in memory, behavior, thinking, or speech
- Vision problems
- Problems with balance
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Paralysis or weakness
- Reaction to anesthesia, including light-headedness, low blood pressure, and wheezing
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Perform an exam to check how your nerves and brain work
- Order an MRI scan , CT scan , or PET scan of the brain
Ask questions like:
- What kind of help will you have at home?
- Do you have any new symptoms?
- What will my recovery be like?
- Will I need rehabilitation after surgery?
- When will I be able to return to work?
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners
- Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
- Arrange for help at home while you recover.
- You will be asked to fast for 8-12 hours before your surgery. Because of this, ask your doctor if you should take your regular medicines with a sip of water before your surgery.
Description of Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
To reduce the risk of brain pressure build-up:
- You may receive steroids and other medicines to keep your body fluid level low.
- The head of your bed will be raised.
- Fluids given to you may be limited.
- You may be given medicines to prevent vomiting.
- Do not strain or hold your breath unless your healthcare staff says it is okay.
- Your mental status will be checked often.
- You may receive medicine to prevent seizures.
- You may receive antibiotics to prevent infection.
- Your dressing will be removed 24-48 hours after surgery and replaced with lighter dressing.
- You may have a drain inserted after surgery. In most cases, it will be removed in the hospital.
- You may be asked to get out of bed and walk around to prevent complications like blood clots or pneumonia .
- Get some help from family and/or friends as you recover.
- Keep your incision clean and dry. Check it for redness, swelling, drainage, or separation of the edges.
- Do physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy if ordered by your doctor. Therapists may come to your home or you may see them in their office.
- Get enough rest and eat a healthy diet to help your body recover.
- If you feel depressed , talk to a therapist, psychologist, or other counselor.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .
Call Your Doctor
- Any changes in physical ability, including balance, strength, or movement
- Any changes in mental status, including level of alertness, memory, thinking, or ability to respond
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge from the incision
- Headache that does not go away
- Stiff neck
- Changes in vision, including double, blurred, or vision loss
- Fainting or seizures
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your face, arms, or legs
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you can't control with the medicines you were given after surgery or which continue for more than two days after leaving the hospital
- Pain that you can't control with the medicines you've been given
- Difficulty breathing
- Cough , shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Trouble controlling your bladder and/or bowels
- Swelling, tenderness, hotness, or redness anywhere in your legs
American Brain Tumor Association http://www.abta.org
National Brain Tumor Society http://www.braintumor.org
Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada http://www.braintumour.ca
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
The essential guide to brain tumors. National Brain Tumor Society website. Available at: http://www.braintumor.org/patients-family-friends/about-brain-tumors/publications/essentials-guide-digital-edition.html . Accessed February 6, 2013.
Guide to the care of the patient with craniotomy post-brain tumor resection. American Association of Neurological Nurses website. Available at: https://www.aann.org/pdf/cpg/aanncraniotomy.pdf . Accessed February 6, 2013.
Professional Guide to Diseases . 9th ed. Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
White-Guthro M. Craniotomy. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated February 24, 2012. Accessed February 6, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
- Reviewer: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 02/06/2013 -