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A craniotomy is a surgical procedure in which a small section of the skull is removed so that a brain tumor can be taken out, then put back in place at the end of the operation. There is a similar procedure known as a craniectomy, in which the skull fragment – also known as a bone flap – is left out until the swelling in brain has gone down, at which point it is secured back in place during a second operation.

Potential complications of a craniotomy

Like any other type of brain cancer surgery, a craniotomy has several risks. These include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Accumulations of fluid in the brain

Most people who have a craniotomy do not experience any major complications. Those who work with an experienced brain surgeon also tend to have the best outcomes, as surgeons who perform these complex procedures on a regular basis tend to have the most highly refined techniques. Moffitt surgeons perform brain cancer surgeries using precision techniques and innovative approaches. For instance, to avoid damaging the tissues that control speech and fine motor function, our surgeons can wake the patient up for a portion of the surgery and have them respond to certain prompts. This is known as an awake craniotomy.

Recovering from a craniotomy

Getting back to normal after a craniotomy can take several weeks, and it’s important for patients to carefully follow their recovery guidelines. Most patients are instructed to avoid engaging in strenuous activities, consuming alcohol and tobacco products and driving until cleared for these activities by their treatment team.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we’re committed to helping our patients achieve the best possible outcomes and quality of life. We do so by not only using the newest and most effective brain surgery techniques, but also by providing comprehensive supportive care services throughout the recovery process. Additionally, our Neuro-Oncology Program is home to several surgeons who exclusively perform brain and skull base operations, giving them a high level of knowledge and expertise.

Our multispecialty team can help you choose the right treatment options for your specific needs. You can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or submitting a new patient registration form online, with or without a physician’s referral.