What is brain surgery to remove a tumor?

The most commonly used brain surgery to remove a tumor is a craniotomy. Other types of brain surgery that can remove a brain tumor include a brain biopsy, craniectomy, endonasal endoscopis surgery and neuroendoscopy.

When is brain surgery to remove a tumor necessary?

Your doctor will determine which surgical option to remove a brain tumor that is most appropriate for your case. The cancer care team will take into consideration the following factors when making this decision:

  • Size of brain tumor
  • Location of brain tumor
  • Whether the brain tumor is benign or malignant
  • Your overall health
  • What prior treatments you have had

Risks of brain surgery?

Brain surgery is a complex medical procedure and is associated with greater risk.

Complications associated with brain surgery to remove a tumor may include:

  • Reaction to the anesthesia 
  • Hemorrhagic stroke
  • Blood clots 
  • Swelling in the brain 
  • Infection at the wound site
  • Seizure
  • Memory issues
  • Impaired cognitive function such as speech, vision or balance
  • Coma

What to expect during brain surgery

What to expect during brain surgery to remove a tumor depends on the type of surgery your doctor will be performing. Brain surgery is typically performed in a hospital operating room under general anesthesia. If an incision is being made in the skull, your doctor will cut a hole in an area near the location of the tumor and use MRI or CT scan guidance to guide an endoscope to the tumor. When the tumor is located, your surgeon will carefully remove it using small surgical instruments. After surgery, your surgeon will replace the piece of skull that was removed. If the area is infected or swelling, the piece of skull will not be replaced (craniectomy).

The time of the procedure will depend on the type of surgery you are having.

Recovery from brain surgery

After brain surgery to remove a tumor, you will be monitored closely to ensure your vital organs are working properly. Immediately after surgery, you will be placed in an upright position to avoid any swelling in the brain.

You will need to stay in the hospital a week or more depending upon the type of brain surgery you are having. Your doctor and care team will closely monitor your progress and determine when you are healthy enough to go home. If you are in severe pain, you will be prescribed pain medication.

Your doctor will give you detailed discharge instructions before you leave the hospital. Instructions may include:
  • How to care for your surgery site
  • Pain management options
  • Follow-up appointment schedule
  • Activity level 

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