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Brain and Skull Tumor Removal Surgery

With a full neurological team, Banner Brain & Spine is ready to help you get back to normal life. Trust the professionals to safely remove your tumor and support your recovery after surgery. 

What Is Brain and Skull Base Tumor Surgery?

Brain or skull tumor surgery is surgery to remove a tumor located in the brain or the base of the skull. 

Types of Tumor Removal Surgeries

Discuss your options with your doctor when it comes to the types of tumor removal surgeries. Some options may include:

Brainstem Surgery: Brainstem   surgery is a type of neurosurgery that involves operating on the brainstem, the low part of the base of the brain that connects the upper brain to the spinal cord. The brainstem controls many important functions, including breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure, as well as the muscles used for swallowing and speaking. Brainstem surgery is typically performed to remove brain tumors, cavernous malformations, or other abnormalities. This type of surgery is very complex and must be carried out with caution, as the brainstem is a delicate and critical part of the nervous system. It is usually only done when other treatments are not possible or have been ineffective.

Cranioplasty: Cranioplasty is a surgical procedure in which a section of the skull that has been removed or damaged is replaced or repaired. This procedure is often performed after brain surgery to remove a brain tumor or to repair a skull fracture. It may also be done to correct a deformity or to improve the appearance of the head. Cranioplasty can be performed using a variety of materials, including bone grafts, synthetic materials, and metal plates. The specific technique used will depend on the location and size of the defect and the patient's individual needs. 

Craniotomy: To perform a craniotomy, your neurosurgeon will make an incision in the scalp to reach the tumor. If possible, your surgeon will perform a minimally invasive approach to decrease healing and craniotomy recovery time.

Awake Craniotomy: An awake craniotomy is a surgical procedure in which the patient is kept awake and alert during a portion of the surgery. This is typically done when the surgeon needs to access areas of the brain that control functions such as speech, movement or sensation, and it is necessary to test these functions during the surgery to ensure that they are not damaged.

During an awake craniotomy, the patient is typically given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the incision will be made, and the rest of the body is kept asleep using general anesthesia. The patient is then awakened and asked to perform various tasks, such as talking, moving specific parts of the body, or identifying objects, while the surgeon works on the brain. The patient is usually able to communicate with the surgeon and the surgical team during the procedure, and they may be given medications to help them relax and stay comfortable.

Awake craniotomy is a complex and highly specialized surgical procedure and it is typically only performed by experienced neurosurgeons. It is an important tool for minimizing the risk of complications and ensuring the best possible outcome for the patient.

Endonasal Endoscopy: Endonasal surgery is a type of surgical procedure that is performed through the nostrils, without the need for external incisions. It is typically used to treat conditions that affect the nasal cavity, sinuses and skull base, such as nasal polyps, nasal tumors and nasal fractures.

Endonasal surgery is typically performed using specialized instruments, such as endoscopes (long, thin tubes with a light and a camera on the end), that are inserted through the nostrils and into the nasal cavity. The surgeon uses the endoscope to visualize the inside of the nose and sinuses, and to perform the surgical procedure.

Endonasal surgery has several benefits compared to traditional open surgery, including a shorter recovery time, less pain and less scarring. It is also less invasive, as it does not require any external incisions, and it allows the surgeon to access the nasal cavity and sinuses more directly. However, endonasal surgery is not suitable for all patients and the decision to undergo this type of surgery should be made after careful consideration and consultation.

Image-guided Tumor Resection: Image-guided tumor resection is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon uses specialized imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans, to guide the removal of a tumor or other mass. This allows the surgeon to visualize the location and extent of the tumor like a “GPS” map of a patient’s own brain and to improve the chance to remove the target more accurately and completely.

It is a specialized procedure that requires advanced training and expertise and is performed by neurosurgeons experienced in its use.

Guided tumor resection is an important tool for improving the outcome of tumor surgery and it is a key part of many cancer treatment plans. It is important for patients to work closely with their health care team to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for their individual needs.

Neuroendoscopy: Neuroendoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure, is done through the ventricles to remove a tumor in the fluid-spaces of the brain. This procedure involves a small incision and bone removal, and usually has faster recovery time.  It can also be used as an adjunct to craniotomies.

Eyebrow/Eyelid Craniotomy: An eyebrow/eyelid craniotomy, also known as a frontotemporal craniotomy, is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the forehead or the upper eyelid to access the brain. It is typically used to treat brain tumors, aneurysms, and other conditions that affect the front of the brain, such as epilepsy and cerebral hemorrhage.

During an eyebrow/eyelid craniotomy, the surgeon first makes an incision in the skin of the forehead or the upper eyelid, and then carefully separates the skin and underlying tissues to expose the bone of the skull. The bone is then carefully cut to create an opening, or craniotomy, through which the surgeon can access the brain. The procedure is usually performed using general anesthesia and the patient is unconscious throughout the surgery.

Eyebrow/eyelid craniotomy is a major surgical procedure and it carries a risk of complications, such as infection, bleeding and scarring.

Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgery: Minimally invasive skull base surgery is a type of surgical procedure that is performed through small incisions, using specialized instruments and techniques. The goal of minimally invasive surgery is to minimize the size of the incision and the amount of tissue that is disrupted, which can lead to less pain, faster recovery and a lower risk of complications.

Minimally invasive skull base surgery is used to treat conditions that affect the skull base, which is the area at the bottom of the skull where it meets the spine. These conditions may include tumors, aneurysms and other abnormalities of the brain and blood vessels. Some common examples of minimally invasive skull base surgery include endoscopic surgery, transnasal surgery, and transoral surgery. These procedures may be performed using small incisions and specialized instruments, such as endoscopes and microsurgery tools.

Talk to your doctor about the best brain and skull tumor removal surgery for you. 

What to Expect During Surgery

The type of tumor you are having removed will determine what to expect during your brain or skull tumor removal. Ask your doctor and neurosurgeon about the expectation for your type of surgery and tumor. 

Recovery After Brain and Skull Tumor Removal Surgery

After surgery, the neurological team at Banner Brain & Spine is here to help you fully recover. Expect initial brain and skull tumor recovery to take a few days to a full week of observation in the hospital depending on your type of surgery. Skull or brain tumor removal surgery recovery will likely continue at home. Your doctor and surgeon will conduct assessments to make sure you are able to walk, talk and perform daily tasks as you recover from brain and skull tumor removal surgery.

Conditions That May Require Brain and Skull Base Tumor Surgery   

Cushing syndrome and Disease: Cushing syndrome is a condition that occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol for a prolonged period of time. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that helps the body respond to stress and regulate various functions, such as metabolism and the immune system. Cushing syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors, including the use of certain medications (such as corticosteroids), a tumor in the pituitary gland or adrenal gland, or other conditions that cause the body to produce excess cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing syndrome can include weight gain (especially in the face, neck, and trunk), thinning of the skin, bruising easily and changes in mood or behavior. In many cases, a neurosurgeon is consulted when the tumor is located inside the pituitary gland itself – these tumors are often small and require careful diagnosis and surgery. Treatment options for Cushing syndrome may include medications to lower cortisol levels, surgery to remove the tumor, and other treatments.

Neurofibromatosis: Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a group of genetic disorders that affect the development and growth of nerve tissue. There are two main types of neurofibromatosis: NF1 and NF2. NF1 is the more common form and is characterized by the growth of tumors on the nerve tissue, as well as skin changes such as cafe-au-lait spots (flat, light brown patches on the skin) and freckling in the armpits or groin. NF2 is a rarer form of the disorder and is characterized by the growth of tumors on the nerves that control hearing and balance. Both types of neurofibromatosis can also cause problems such as learning disabilities, vision problems, and changes in the bones and skin. Treatment for neurofibromatosis may include medications, surgery to remove tumors and other treatments to manage specific symptoms and complications.