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Brain Conditions & Treatment
A craniotomy is a type of surgery performed on the human brain. It is the most common surgery for removing brain tumors, although it can be used for other conditions: to inspect the brain, ease pressure in the skull, remove a blood clot (hematoma), control bleeding from a weakened blood vessel, repair abnormal connections of blood vessels, or drain an abscess.
How it’s Done
There are two known craniotomy procedures. One is opening the skull through an incision made at the nape of the neck or a curving incision is made at the front of the ear.
As an incision is made, the surgeon will try to reach as far as the thin membrane that surrounds the bone of the skull. Because of the huge amount of blood in the scalp, the surgeon will seal off many blood vessels as he performs the procedure.
The surgeon uses a high speed drill to make holes in the cranium, after moving the tissue to expose the bone. He connects the holes using a fine wire saw until a section of the bone can be removed. When this is completed, the surgeon can now proceed with brain surgery to remove the brain tumor.
After the tumor is removed, the surgeon replaces the bone and secures it with soft wire. The rest – muscles, skin and membranes – are sewn into place. The final step will depend on whether or not the surgeon is treating an aneurysm, removing a tumor, or treating a malformation.
Is Craniotomy for You?
There are certain conditions that call for a craniotomy. If you have any of these conditions, you can be a potential candidate for craniotomy:
- You have a fracture that needs to be repaired or a tumor/lesion was detected in your brain
- You have a blood clot or a specific brain infection
- You are bleeding and it needs to be stopped
- You have epileptic seizures and electrodes have to be planted to monitor your seizures
- You have an aneurysm
There are alternatives to a craniotomy. Medications can be prescribed for certain conditions. If surgery is not possible, radiation or chemotherapy may be recommended.
The doctor will want to carry out extensive examinations and lab tests prior to a craniotomy. He will also discuss the pros and cons of the specific procedure in question, as well as the risks involved.
After the operation, your mental alertness, pupils, and limb movements are examined. You will be asked to breathe to clear your lungs. The doctor may prescribe medicine to control pain, seizures or swelling. You may be told to wear special stockings to prevent clotting in the legs.
Hospitalization ranges from 5 to 14 days. Bandages will be removed and replaced regularly. The doctor may also recommend physical therapy. It is normal to feel fatigue up to 8 weeks after surgery; complete recovery takes about 2 months.Back to top