Brain Surgery - Craniotomy

This surgery involves removing a small section of the skull to give a surgeon access to the brain and surrounding structures.

This surgery involves removing a small section of the skull to give a surgeon access to the brain and surrounding structures.

Brain surgery involves removing a small section of the skull to give a surgeon access to the brain and surrounding structures.

  • If the surgeon replaces the piece of bone after surgery, the surgery is a craniotomy.
  • Sometimes the surgery is done to relieve pressure on the brain. In that case, the piece of bone is stored until it can be replaced in the future. This is a craniectomy.

Your healthcare provider may perform brain surgery to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • A brain tumor, abscess or cyst
  • Bleeding or infection in the brain
  • Blood clots or aneurysm in the brain
  • Facial nerve pain
  • Skull fracture
  • Increased pressure in the brain, such as after a stroke or brain injury
  • Seizures
  • Insertion of electronic device to treat a variety of brain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease

This care path includes the cost of brain surgery to remove a tumor from the brain.

If your healthcare provider recommends brain surgery, various diagnostic studies may be done beforehand to determine the exact area of the brain to operate on during surgery. These tests may include an:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan

Prior to surgery, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery, such as:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before surgery

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.

During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free.

  • General anesthesia is when an anesthesiologist puts you into a deep sleep. You will not be able to see, hear, or feel anything.
  • In some cases, the surgeon may need you to be awake and able to follow commands during surgery. The anesthesiologist will make sure you are comfortable and pain free.

You will likely spend five to seven days in the hospital after surgery.

  • The first day or two, you may be in an intensive care unit. You may have a special catheter in your head to measure the pressures in your brain.
  • As you recover, the nurses will remove all the lines and catheters and transfer you to a regular room.
  • If your healthcare provider does not replace the piece of bone removed during surgery, the area of your brain under the opening will need to be protected. Therefore, you will need to wear a special helmet until your surgeon replaces the bone.
  • You will probably need pain medication and help at home while you recover.

If your healthcare provider recommends brain surgery, ask the following questions.

  • What type of brain surgery are you recommending? Are there any alternatives to surgery? Why are you recommending one treatment over another?
  • Will you be replacing the piece of bone you removed right after surgery? Why or why not? If not, when will you be replacing it and what type of precautions do I need to follow?
  • What are the possible complications?
  • How will I feel after the surgery and will I have to modify my activities?
  • Do I need any special tests? What are the benefits and risks of having the tests? Will the tests change your treatment recommendations? If not, is there a need for them?
  • After surgery, what symptoms should I be concerned about? What precautions do I need to take?
  • How many of these surgeries have you done? How many years have you been doing this type of surgery? What are your typical results one year and five years after surgery?

Prior to discharge, you should understand all home care instructions. This includes symptoms to report before your next appointment, medications and their side effects, and follow-up plans. Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.


Also known as:

Remove Brain Tissue
Removal of Brain Tissue
Brain Tissue Removal
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