A hospital stay of around three to seven days is required during a craniotomy. Procedures may vary depending on the condition of the patient and the practices of the physician. A craniotomy follows the following process:
- All sorts of jewellery will have to be removed, and an operation gown will have to be worn. Emptying of the bladder will be required.
- To inject medication and administer fluids, an intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into the patient’s arm. Moreover, to drain the patient’s urine, a urinary catheter will be attached.
- The patient will be placed in a position that allows the maximum access to the problem area in the brain.
- The heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, etc., of the patient, will be continuously monitored.
- The patient’s head will be shaved, and cleansing of the skin over the surgical area will be done using an antiseptic solution.
- Depending on the area of the problem and the affected site of the brain, a specific type of incision will be used.
- To control bleeding, the scalp will be pulled up and clipped. However, access will be provided to the brain.
- In order to proceed with making burr holes in the skull, a medical drill may be used. Further, surgical saw shall be utilized to cautious cut the bone. The flap of the bone will be removed and preserved.
- The dura mater, (a thick outer covering right beneath the bone) will be separated from the bone and cautious and smoothly cut open to make the brain visible.
- If required, excess fluid of the brain will be made to flow out. Samples of tissue might also be sent to the laboratory for testing.
- To measure the inside pressure or (ICP) of the skull, a device shall be placed in the brain tissue.
- As soon as the surgery gets over, the surgeon sews the layers of tissue together. Then, using plates, sutures, or wires the bone flap is reattached.
- If an infection or a tumour is found in the bone, the replacement of the flap shall not be done.
- The skin incision site will be then closed. A sterile dressing will provided over the incision.
Some general complications of this procedure are mentioned below. But, the risks are not limited to the following:
- Blood clots
- Unstable BP
- Brain swelling
- Muscle weakness
- Leakage of the fluid that surrounds and acts as a cushion to the brain – (cerebrospinal fluid)
These next set of complications are very rare and may not be valid for various individuals, but, are related to the above-mentioned procedure:
- Abnormal balance or coordination
- Memory problems
- Speech difficulty
Other risks might be there based on the specific medical condition of the patient. It is recommended that patient who is about to undergo this procedure clearly shares his/her concerns with the physician.