A craniotomy is surgery to open your skull to fix a problem in your brain. It can be done for many reasons. For example, you may need a craniotomy if your brain or blood vessels are damaged. Or you may need one if you have a tumour or an infection in your brain.
The doctor uses special tools to make cuts (incisions) through your scalp and skull. The doctor then looks at the inside of your skull or fixes the problem. He or she uses small plates and clamps to put the piece of your skull back in place.
You may get medicine so you will be asleep during the surgery. Or you may be awake, but you will not feel pain. Sometimes a person must be awake during surgery so the doctor can test how well the brain is working.
The surgery can last from 30 minutes to 12 hours. Afterward, you may stay in the hospital for 3 to 10 days. Depending on why you had the surgery, you may need 4 to 8 weeks to fully recover. Your recovery may take longer if you have weak areas of your body or have problems talking or seeing. You may need up to 6 months to recover from some brain injuries or infections. You may not recover completely from some types of brain injuries.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& A. Evan Eyler, MD, MPH - Family Medicine, Psychiatry
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