Craniotomy for Removal – Why it is Recommended and How it can Benefit You
A craniotomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a lesion in the brain by opening part of the skull. Like most parts of the body, the brain is susceptible to injuries, infection, bleeding, and other forms of trauma. In serious cases where damage interferes with brain function, brain surgery may be required to diagnose or treat your specific condition. The types of craniotomy procedures vary based on location on the skull and the size of the hole that will be made. While some forms are more aggressive than others, the recovery process following a craniotomy is usually the same in most cases.
Why is a Craniotomy Needed?
A craniotomy is most commonly performed to remove tumors from the brain, but a surgeon may perform this procedure for a number of different reasons including to:
- Remove blood clots
- Manage a hemorrhage
- Repair arteriovenous malformations
- Drain an abscess
- Relieve pressure on the brain
- Conduct a biopsy
- Inspect the brain for any abnormalities<>/li>
- Treat trigeminal neuralgia or face pain
What to Expect during a Craniotomy
While the surgical methods may vary, a craniotomy generally proceeds as follows:
- Before the Procedure: Feeling intimidated by the prospect of a craniotomy is normal, so it’s important to ask your surgeon any questions you may have prior to your appointment, especially if you’re experiencing anxiety. Before the procedure, you may have to undergo a blood test and physical examination. Fasting is required on the night before your surgery and you may be given a sedative to ease anxiety and minimize the risk of seizures, infection, and inflammation after surgery. Additionally, your scalp will be shaved right before the procedure begins.
- During the Procedure: Before any incision is made, you will be under a general anesthetic and your head will be attached to a device to prevent movement. Referring to preoperative imaging, the neurosurgeon will determine the most appropriate place to make the incision and perform the craniotomy. Using a specialized tool called a perforator, tiny holes are drilled into the exposed skull and an incision is made from one hole to the next. The surgeon will temporarily remove a section of bone known as the bone flap and the brain membrane will be exposed. The necessary procedure for removing a tumor, blood clot or other repairs will be performed, and the bone flap is put back into place. A drain is inserted into the brain to remove excess blood and the area is stitched back together. The entire procedure may take up to two and a half hours to perform.
- After the Procedure: A craniotomy is a major surgery so your vitals will be closely monitored, and your mental status and limb movement will be evaluated once the anesthesia wears off. Shortly after the procedure, you may be required to perform some breathing exercises to clear the lungs. Pain medication may be administered, and it is advised that you wear compression stockings to prevent blood clots. You may spend a few days to a couple of weeks in the hospital during the recovery phase where bandages can be removed and replaced regularly, and stitches can eventually be removed. It may take up to two months for you to make a full recovery and it is very common to feel fatigued during this time.
The Benefits of a Craniotomy
There are several reasons why you may benefit from undergoing a craniotomy. Take your time to understand these reasons and ask questions. Some of the benefits you can expect from this procedure include:
- Repairs brain tissue, like a membrane tear
- Removes potentially life-threatening blood clots
- Manages blood leaking in the brain
- Helps treat chronic conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease
- Relieves pressure in the brain due to traumatic injuries
From minor to complex cases, Dr. Lewis is here to serve you at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic. As a world-class, board certified neurosurgeon, he is equipped with the most innovative medical technologies that are intended to help enhance your quality of life. He will help you explore all types of treatments including both surgical and non-surgical options to ensure you make a choice you can feel good about.
Contact us today to learn more about a craniotomy for removal of tumors or other conditions. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Lewis. We’ll find a solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.