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  • Writer's picturePietro D'Urso

What is a craniotomy?

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

A craniotomy is a surgical procedure that is done to remove something from the brain. Part of the skull is removed to expose the part of brain that needs to be operated on (this is called a bone flap). Once the surgery is finished, the bone flap will be put back in place.

Surgeons will sometimes be assisted by computer or imaging equipment during the surgery to help them reach a precise location. As the brain is very delicate, the use of certain equipment during surgery is essential to ensure that no vital tissue in the brain is damage, as this is a can have life changing effects (however this is very rare).

Why might I need a craniotomy?

A craniotomy can be done for a number of different reasons. Here are some of the most common reasons to have a craniotomy:

  • Diagnose, treat or remove a brain tumour

  • Repairing or clipping a brain aneurysm

  • Removing a blood clot

  • Draining an abscess

  • Removing a fistula or malformation

  • Repairing a skull fracture

  • Relieving pressure

  • Treating epilepsy


-Awake vs asleep

It may sound strange to think about being awake during surgery. For some patients, being awake during the surgery is essential to ensure that the surgery is a success.

During an awake craniotomy, the patient is woken up while the affected area is being treated. The purpose of this is to ensure that none of the patients’ functions are affected by the surgery. The patient becomes a key member of the surgical team

- Minimally invasive

A minimally invasive craniotomy will have the same outcome as a ‘normal’ craniotomy. The only difference is that the incision mark will be a lot smaller. This cannot be offered to all patients as the surgery technique that is used differs depending on what it is being done for. Some of the benefits to having this surgery is that there can be less pain and scarring and also a faster healing process.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition

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