Brain Surgery

Published On 07/11/2011

Brain surgery treats problems in the brain and the structures around it through an opening (craniotomy) in the skull (cranium). The time it takes for the surgery varies based on the type of problem that is being treated.

Brain surgery may be needed to treat or remove:

  • Brain tumors
  • Bleeding (hemorrhage) or blood clots (hematomas) from injuries (subdural hematoma or epidural hematomas)
  • Weaknesses in blood vessels (cerebral aneurysms) See also: Brain aneurysm repair
  • Abnormal blood vessels (arteriovenous malformations; AVM)
  • Damage to tissues covering the brain (dura)
  • Infections in the brain (brain abscesses)
  • Severe nerve or facial pain (such as trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux)
  • Skull fractures
  • Pressure in the brain after an injury or stroke
  • Some forms of seizure disorders (epilepsy)
  • Certain brain diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease) that may be helped with an implanted electronic device

Before the Procedure
You will have a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may perform many laboratory and x-ray tests. Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • If you could be pregnant
  • What drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, vitamins, or herbs you bought without a prescription
  • If you have been drinking a lot of alcohol

During the days before the surgery you may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot. Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery. Always try to stop smoking. Ask your doctor for help. Your doctor or nurse may ask you to wash your hair with a special shampoo the night before surgery.

On Surgery Day 

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 8 to 12 hours before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure
After surgery, you'll be closely watched in the intensive care unit (ICU). When you are stable, you will then go to a room where a doctor or nurse will monitor you closely to make sure your brain functions are working well. They may ask you questions, shine a light in your eyes, and ask you to do simple tasks. You may need oxygen for a few days. 

The head of your bed will be kept higher to help reduce swelling of your face or head, which is normal. You may have pain after surgery while you are in the hospital. Your doctor or nurse will give you medicines to help with this. You will usually stay in the hospital for 3 to 7 days. You may need physical therapy (rehabilitation) while you are in the hospital or after you leave the hospital.

Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) provides an alternative to traditional surgical procedures. We are always looking for ways to maximize patient comfort and safety. Developing minimally invasive programs is one way of achieving our goal.

Traditional surgery often involves long incisions and extended recovery times. The rise in use and development of minimally invasive techniques brings increased benefits to patients through:

  • Less blood loss
  • Reduced need for blood transfusion
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Quicker recovery times
  • Minimal scarring

MIS involves the use of an endoscope, a thin, telescope-like instrument that is inserted through a small opening or incision. A small camera about the size of a dime is attached to the end of the endoscope, providing surgeons with a close-up view via television screen. Small surgical instruments are inserted through other incisions. Because incisions are kept small, large muscle retraction and scarring are minimal. MIS is available at many of our locations. Discuss your surgical treatment options with your physician.

To find a Methodist affiliated neurosurgeon in Memphis, Tennessee, please use our physician locator or call 888.777.5959.