Brain Tumor Surgery

Brain Tumor Surgery

Brain tumor surgery is done to remove brain tumour, primary or secondary. In most cases, brain tumor is removed via the craniotomy procedure. In craniotomy, a lesion/tumor in the brain is removed by making an opening in the cranium (skull).

Why is it needed?

This surgery is prescribed to treat brain tumor symptoms. The symptoms and signs are specific to the tumor location, spread, swelling and size.


  • Headache, which gets worse on waking up, but reduces in a couple of hours
  • Headache which gets worse with exercise and coughing
  • Headache even during sleep
  • Headache associated with double vision, confusion and vomiting
  • Weakness in one part of the body
  • Seizures
  • Altered mental functions

Other associated symptoms may include

  • Changes in smell, taste, alertness, sensation-hearing
  • Motor function loss- bladder and bowel, balance, coordination, swallowing
  • Eye abnormalities-uncontrollable movements, different pupil size
  • Tremors in hands, difficulty in writing
  • Obesity
  • Symptoms due to pituitary tumor
  • Symptoms related to hormonal imbalance
  • Sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Low blood pressure

The causes for primary brain tumor are unknown. The risk factors for brain tumor development are:

  • Exposure to radiation at work , head injuries
  • Radiation therapy to brain
  • Hereditary

Facts and figures

  • Usually, brain tumour are found to be more common in men than in women
  • Early diagnosis as well as excellent treatment helps to cure many non-malignant tumors and some malignant tumors. Long term rate of survival for non-malignant tumors is 95%, and some kinds of malignant tumors is 80%
  • In US, every year, 1,500 children and 21,000 adults are diagnosed with benign and malignant tumors in the US
  • Brain tumor occurs mainly in people aged over 65. However, brain tumors are second most cancer in children, especially children below 8 years


  • Brain tumor removal surgery which is successful, saves and extends patient life
  • Patients get relief from symptoms and can continue to live with improved quality of life
  • A surgeon named William, was the first surgeon to remove brain tumor in 1879


  • Sometimes, surgery on a particular part/area of the bone can cause the loss of some mental functions such as – speech related disorders, memory, muscle weakness, imbalance, coordination, vision and so on. These disorders can last for a short or long duration, and sometimes, never go away
  • Chance to develop fatal brain herniation

Risk and Complications

  • Brain tissue injury
  • Blood vessels injury
  • Nerve damage causing weakness or muscle paralysis
  • Reaction to medication or anesthesia
  • Return of tumor growth
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Bleeding
  • Strokes
  • Swelling of the brainPossible Complications
  • Infection in the brain structures

Preoperative Preparation

  • Complete physical examination
  • Blood and urinalysis
  • Diagnostic tests like X-Rays, arteriogram, MRI, CT scan
  • Consult doctor about the risks, post surgery rehabilitation as well as the possible outcome of surgery.
  • Consult doctor week before surgery to get list of medicines to be stopped and taken
  • Inform the surgeon about alcohol or smoking habits
  • Arrange for a caregiver post surgery (for home, driving and rehabilitation program)
  • Arrange blood donation/donors as blood may be required during surgery
  • Medical tourist should book a hotel room suited for patients who have undergone surgery

No eating or drinking after midnight before the surgery

  • Wear loose fitting comfortable clothes
  • Patient head has to be shaved before surgery

Post operative care

  • Usually, a patient has to stay at the hospital approx 7-14 days after the surgery. Patient is shifted to ICU immediately after surgery, where vital signs are constantly monitored. Once the patient stabilizes, he/she is shifted to a normal room and his brain functions are monitored closely by doctor and staff. Medication is given to control any pain and avoid infections
  • The incision is covered with bandages, which has to be removed and replaced regularly
  • Patient is allowed only intravenous fluids for the first few days
  • Physical therapy is started during the hospital stay, to help patient improve strength, speech, daily living skills. Normally, patients experience emotional changes and feel discouraged and tired after surgery. The positive attitude and cheerful manner of friends and family is required to help the patient overcome emotional trauma

Dos, Don’ts and Precautions

  • Do keep the scalp clean and dry, till sutures are removed
  • Do take enough rest
  • Don’t lift heavy weights or perform strenuous activity
  • Do follow the post surgery care instruction prescribed by surgeon meticulously
  • Do monitor changes in speech, mental ability, and keep doctor updated about these

Full recovery usually takes 8 weeks to 2 months after surgery. Surgery outcome depends on the site and type of brain tumor, type of surgical procedure and the general health of the patient.

Dos, Don’ts and Precautions