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Brain Surgery

What you need to know about brain surgery

There are a variety of types of brain surgery, just as there are a variety of types of problems that can happen with the brain. Some surgeries are to remove fluid, some are to remove tumors, and some are to fix the blood flow. All major brain surgeries involve cutting open the skull, and quite a long recovery time.

When Brain Surgery is Necessary

A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the brain area. It may be malignant or non-malignant. It may be primary (originate in the brain) or secondary (start somewhere else in the body and spread into the brain). Brain tumor surgery begins by opening the skull, a procedure called a craniotomy. An incision is made in the scalp and then some of the bone is removed from the skull. After the operation, the bone is replaced with bone, metal, or a piece of fabric.

Virtual brain surgery is a computer based simulator that allows surgeons to practice brain surgery, even to the point of adding patient specifics. Surgeons are able to turn scans, such as MRIs, into 3D images, for use with this machine. This technology allows for shorter surgeries, and quicker recovery time. Everyone's brain is different, so being able to practice on a particular one is a great advantage.

A brain aneurysm is an abnormal bulging of an artery in the brain. If undetected, these aneurysms can rupture, causing bleeding in or around the brain, which can lead to a stroke, brain damage, or even death. Brain aneurysm surgery involves opening the skull and using a clamp to cut off the blood flow to the aneurysm. The bone is then replaced and the skull is closed. There have been some recent advances in brain aneurysm surgery that involve using a catheter inserted into the leg to take tiny platinum coils to the brain to be released into the aneurysm and seal it off. This surgery is much less invasive, and results in a much shorter recovery time.

Whether through a craniotomy or a catheter, a brain operation is a very serious thing. You want to have as much information as you can about the operation going into it. You also want to have some supportive people around you during your recovery time. You need to know what to expect during your recovery and what to report to your doctor as unusual. You may have some physical or cognitive impairment to overcome, so you want to have a plan in place for someone else to assist you with driving, cooking, and even keeping track of your medication.

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