What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Craniotomy?

A craniotomy is a surgery done on the head. The surgeon cuts through the skull to reach the brain. There are different types of craniotomies, including:

  • Burr hole—A small hole is made in the skull.
  • Traditional craniotomy—A piece of skull is cut out and then put back after the surgery.
  • Stereotaxy—A computer is used to help find where things are in the brain during the surgery.
  • Awake craniotomy—The patient is awake during part of the surgery.

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

The success of this surgery depends on the reason for the surgery. The most common reasons for a craniotomy include:

  • Biopsy —to obtain a brain tissue sample
  • Brain cancer
  • Head trauma
  • Blood clot in the brain
  • Blood vessel problems with the brain
  • Nerve disorders
  • Brain swelling
  • Brain infection

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a craniotomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Brain swelling
  • Damage to your brain which may cause:
  • Changes in memory, behavior, thinking, or speech
  • Vision problems
  • Problems with balance
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis or weakness
  • Reaction to anesthesia (eg, light-headedness, low blood pressure, wheezing)
  • Heart attack
  • Blood clots

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Any changes in physical ability (balance, strength, or movement)
  • Any changes in mental status (level of consciousness, memory, thinking, or responsiveness) *...