What is brain surgery?
Brain surgery, or neurosurgery, refers to medical procedures performed on the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and the extra-cranial cerebrovascular system. These surgical procedures are typically performed by a neurosurgeon.
When should I or my loved one see a specialist for brain surgery?
Neurosurgeons diagnose and treat a wide array of diseases and conditions that affect the nervous system – including the brain. If your primary doctor believes it necessary for you or your loved one to consult a neurosurgeon, you will be referred to one.
You may be suffering from one of the following conditions:
● Traumatic head injury (such as a skull fracture).
● Hydrocephalus (excessive buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain).
● Brain tumour.
● Bleeding on the brain.
● Blood clots on the brain.
● Severe nerve or face pain.
● Infections in the brain.
Did you know?
Gamma knife is an advanced radiosurgical tool used to eliminate brain tumours without incisions, by delivering 192 beams of radiation. It is preferable to invasive surgery, with a faster recovery time for the patient. This procedure results in a high tumour control rate and a low complication rate. ¹
What are the risks of brain surgery?
There are a number of risks associated with brain surgery. The general risks linked to the use of anesthesia include an adverse reaction to the medication, breathing problems, bleeding, blood clots, and infection.
Other potential risks may be temporary or permanent and may include any of the following:
● Problems with speech, memory, balance, coordination, and vision.
● Muscle weakness.
● Infection in the brain or skull.
● Brain swelling.
How should I prepare for my consultation with a specialist?
During your first consultation, your specialist neurosurgeon will review your medical history, current medications, test results, and symptoms. Be sure to prepare all relevant information in advance and be ready to discuss all aspects, in detail. In addition, you may be required to complete further testing, before your neurosurgeon confirms a diagnosis.
Take the opportunity to speak to your specialist about any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
What can I expect during brain surgery?
The details of your surgical procedure will depend largely on your particular case and condition. However, in most cases, you will be required to fast for 8-12 hours before surgery. Before your surgical procedure, your anesthesiologist will explain the anaesthesia for your particular surgery and how it will affect you.
You will have an intravenous (IV) drip inserted to supply water and nutrients during the operation, and also for you to receive the anaesthesia. You will also have a catheter inserted into your bladder to collect your urine, and a tube inserted down your throat to help you breathe.
In the operating room, you will be positioned with your head in a neck brace to prevent any movement. Your head will be cleaned with antimicrobial soap, and a small area of hair will be shaved before the surgical procedure begins.
What happens after my brain surgery?
After your surgery, you will need to rest. You will be closely monitored by your surgical team as your brain recovers. You will need to stay in hospital while in recovery and may have some swelling of the brain. This swelling can cause symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, poor balance, lack of coordination, personality changes, seizures, speech problems, and confusion.
As the swelling goes down, these symptoms should lessen and disappear. Be prepared that your recovery will take time, and each individual case is different. You will receive detailed instructions from your neurosurgeon before you are discharged on how to manage your recovery.Request an appointment with a neurosurgeon today.
 Karlsson B, Guo WY, Kejia T, Dinesh N, Pan DH, Jokura H, Kawagishi J, van Eck AT, Horstmann GA, Yeo TT, Yamamoto M. Gamma Knife surgery for central neurocytomas. J Neurosurg. 2012 Dec;117 Suppl:96-101. doi: 10.3171/2012.6.GKS12214.