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What Is a Craniotomy?

A craniotomy is a surgical procedure in which a portion of your skull, called a bone flap, is temporarily removed to reveal your brain. Your surgeon needs to access it to complete a vital treatment. Once the procedure is complete, the flap is replaced. A craniotomy requires the use of highly specialized tools and the expertise of physicians who’ve been trained in advanced surgical techniques.

In New Jersey, top neurosurgeons perform craniotomies and other procedures through ten convenient neurosurgery and spine centers of Premier Brain and Spine in New Jersey and New York.

What Brain Procedures May Require a Craniotomy?

A craniotomy is an effective surgical procedure used by your ambulatory surgery center physician to prepare the skull for procedures to treat a range of conditions, including:

What Happens During a Craniotomy?

For certain types of craniotomies, you need to be awake to answer questions or do specific movements when asked. But you remain under general anesthesia when your input isn’t needed during the procedure. A craniotomy takes up to two hours or more, depending on the underlying condition your doctors are treating.

To prepare you for a craniotomy, your neurosurgeon takes steps that may include:

  1. You may need to be seated or laying down, depending on the part of your head your surgeon needs to access.
  2. An anchoring device holds your head still for the duration of the procedure.
  3. An anesthesiologist uses an intravenous line through your arm or hand to deliver sedation medication.
  4. A urinary catheter is inserted to control bladder functions.
  5. Once you’re asleep, the surgical team shaves and cleans the area on and around the portion of the operation site.
  6. A scalp incision provides access to the bone of your cranium. Next, the bone flap is removed using a medical drill and saw.
  7. To access the inside of your brain, the surgeon cuts the outermost membrane, called the dura mater.
  8. Your surgeon then repairs or removes the damaged portion of your brain.
  9. Tissues samples may be taken for lab testing prior to closing the flap with surgical stiches or staples and plates or wires.
  10. Your head is then bandaged.

What Happens After a Craniotomy?

It’s likely you’ll be moved into an intensive care unit immediately following a craniotomy to ensure brain swelling is under control. Once you’re stable, you’re moved to a hospital room for a couple days. Typically, you can go home after two or three days when all your vital signs are clear.

Complete recovery can take anywhere from four to six weeks. Follow your doctor’s instructions closely for a smooth recovery. Take physical therapy when required and continue with regularly scheduled follow-ups with your surgery center team. When you have issues with your brain or spine, contact the top specialists at Premier Brain & Spine for the most effective, state-of-the-art treatments around.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190