Open Craniotomy

Why is this surgery done?

Open craniotomy is a procedure performed by neurosurgeons. It is, in fact, the original brain surgery. It means a section of the skull bone will be removed to let the surgeon enter the brain area. Generally, this bone is returned to its normal spot at the end of the surgery. Craniotomy is required for a variety of different types of lesions such as tumors, blood clots, aneurysm repair and trauma.

How is an open craniotomy done?

Craniotomy is done using a general anesthetic (you will be put to sleep), followed by opening the skin and removing a piece of skull bone, then removing the offending agent through critical microsurgical techniques. When the craniotomy is completed, the skull bone is replaced and the skin is closed. The ability to perform craniotomy for a wide variety of lesions is one of the reasons many patients are referred to Goodman Campbell for their treatment.

What are my risks? What are common complications?

The type of lesion determines the complexity of the surgery, the tools involved, the length of surgery and the subsequent risks. Risks of craniotomy are remarkably low given the complexity of the problems it addresses and the nature of the surgery required.

What do I need to know before surgery?

You will be given specific instructions for your surgery. Often tests and bloodwork will have to be performed. You may not eat or drink starting the night before surgery. If you smoke, you should stop before surgery to help with healing and recovery.

General discharge instructions

Most patients spend several days in intensive care and most go home at the end of the hospitalization, but some will need to go to rehabilitation. Again, this varies with each patient and depends on your specific diagnosis and overall health status. 

Once home, try to increase your activity slowly, as tolerated. Avoid activity that is strenuous. Regular walking is the best exercise. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs and do not smoke. Smoking can delay healing and contribute to postoperative infection.

What should I expect while recovering?

Everyone recovers at a different pace. Your surgery may be for a different problem than a friend’s or neighbor’s. You should expect to gradually feel better, and as time goes by, begin to build up your strength and energy and work to return to your normal. 

Possible physical therapy exercises

Low impact activity, such as walking, is the best way to build up your energy. You should try to be active each day—and multiple times a day as you recover. 


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