A craniotomy is a surgical procedure to access the brain and is utilized to remove tumors and other abnormal brain tissue, clip an aneurysm, drain an infection or treat a traumatic brain injury. It also is used to implant therapeutic devices in patients with Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Usually done under general anesthesia, craniotomy also can be performed under local anesthesia with the patient awake throughout the procedure. The surgeon begins by cutting through the scalp and removing a piece of skull called a bone flap. In some cases, a smaller hole is made that allows the surgeon to insert an endoscope (a tube containing a light and a camera) and other tools and complete the craniotomy endoscopically. MRI or CT imaging helps guide the surgeon in reaching the treatment area. The bone flap is generally replaced after surgery and secured with tiny plates and screws, sutures or wires. The hospital stay after craniotomy can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on why the procedure was performed.