Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
Craniotomy is a major surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia. Immediately after surgery, the pa tient's pupil reactions are tested, mental status is assessed after anesthesia, and movement of the limbs (arms/legs) is evaluated. Shortly...
after surgery, breathing exercises are started to clear the lungs. Typically, after surgery patients are given medications to control pain, swelling, and seizures. Codeine may be prescribed to relive headache. Special leg stockings are used to prevent blood clot formation after surgery. Patients can usually get out of bed in about a day after surgery and usually are hospitalized for five to 14 days after surgery. The bandages on the skull are be removed and replaced regularly. The sutures closing the scalp are removed by the surgeon, but the soft wires used to reattach the portion of the skull that was removed are permanent and require no further attention. Patients should keep the scalp dry until the sutures are removed. If required (depending on area of brain involved), occupational therapists and physical therapist assess the patient's status postoperatively and help the patient improve strength, daily living skills and capabilities, and speech. Full recovery may take up to two months, since it is common for patients to feel fatigued for up to eight weeks after surgery.
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A craniotomy is a surgical operation in which part of the skull, called a bone flap, is removed in order to access the brain. Craniotomies are often a critical operation performed on patients suffering from brain lesions or traumatic brain injury (TBI), and can also allow doctors to surgically implant deep brain stimulators for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and cerebellar tremor. The procedure is also widely used in neuroscience for extracellular recording, brain imaging, and for neurological manipulations such as electrical stimulation and chemical titration.
Human craniotomy is usually performed under general anesthesia but can be also done with the patient awake using a local anaesthetic; the procedure generally does not involve significant discomfort for the patient. In general, a craniotomy will be preceded by an MRI scan which provides a picture of the brain that the surgeon uses to plan the precise location for bone removal and the appropriate angle of access to the relevant brain areas. The amount of skull that needs to be removed depends to a large extent on the type of surgery being performed. Most small holes can heal with no difficulty. When larger parts of the skull must be removed, surgeons will usually try to retain the bone flap and replace it immediately after surgery. It is held in place temporarily with metal plates and rather quickly reintegrates with the intact part of the skull, at which point the metal plates are removed.
Craniotomy is distinguished from craniectomy, in which the skull flap is not replaced, and from trepanation, which is performed voluntarily without medical necessity.
For a neurosurgery, as for any other surgery, it's important to always bring x-rays and any other medical records the patients has.
-Dr Catherine McAuley
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