Brain Surgery: What You Need to Know
Brain surgery is a medical procedure that involves operating on the brain or its surrounding structures. Brain surgery can be done for various reasons, such as to treat brain tumors, aneurysms, epilepsy, stroke, trauma, infections, or congenital defects. Brain surgery can also be done to implant devices, such as deep brain stimulation electrodes, vagus nerve stimulators, or shunts.
Brain surgery is a complex and delicate operation that requires a high level of skill and experience from the surgeon and the medical team. Brain surgery can have serious risks and complications, such as bleeding, infection, brain damage, stroke, seizures, or death. Therefore, brain surgery is usually considered only when other treatments have failed or are not possible.
If you or someone you know is facing brain surgery, you may have many questions and concerns about the procedure and its outcome. In this article, we will provide you with some basic information about brain surgery, such as what types of brain surgery are available, how to prepare for brain surgery, what to expect during and after brain surgery, and what are some of the possible complications and side effects of brain surgery.
Types of Brain Surgery
There are different types of brain surgery depending on the location and the nature of the problem. Some of the most common types of brain surgery are:
- Craniotomy: This is the most common type of brain surgery. It involves making an incision in the scalp and removing a piece of the skull bone (called a bone flap) to access the brain. The bone flap is then replaced and secured with screws or plates after the surgery.
- Burr hole: This is a type of brain surgery that involves making a small hole in the skull (usually about the size of a dime) to insert a thin tube (called a catheter) or a device (such as a shunt) into the brain. This can be done to drain excess fluid from the brain (called hydrocephalus), to relieve pressure in the brain (called intracranial hypertension), or to deliver medication or radiation to a specific area of the brain.
- Endoscopic: This is a type of brain surgery that involves using a thin flexible tube (called an endoscope) with a camera and a light at its tip to view and operate on the inside of the brain through small openings in the skull or through natural openings such as the nose or mouth. This can be done to remove tumors, cysts, or blood clots from the brain or to treat conditions such as hydrocephalus or pituitary adenomas.
- Stereotactic: This is a type of brain surgery that involves using a computerized system to precisely locate and target a specific area of the brain using three-dimensional images. This can be done to perform biopsies, to implant electrodes or devices, or to deliver radiation or medication to a specific area of the brain.
- Minimally invasive: This is a type of brain surgery that involves using smaller incisions and specialized instruments to access and operate on the brain with less damage to surrounding tissues. This can reduce blood loss, infection risk, and recovery time. However, not all types of brain problems can be treated with minimally invasive techniques.
How to Prepare for Brain Surgery
Before undergoing brain surgery, you will need to undergo several tests and evaluations to determine your eligibility and readiness for the procedure. These may include blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests (such as MRI, CT scan, PET scan, or angiogram), electroencephalogram (EEG), neuropsychological tests, and physical examination.
You will also need to discuss with your surgeon and your medical team about your medical history, your current medications and supplements, your allergies, your lifestyle habits (such as smoking, drinking, or drug use), and your expectations and goals for the surgery. You will need to inform them about any previous surgeries or treatments you have had on your head or neck area.
You will also need to follow some instructions before your surgery day. These may include:
- Stopping certain medications or supplements that may increase bleeding risk (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, or vitamin E) for several days before