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Stereotactic Craniotomy for Tumours

A craniotomy is the removal of part of your skull to gain access to your brain and treat various conditions such as a blood clot, abscess, aneurysm (bulging vessel) or tumour. During a craniotomy for a tumour, a sample of abnormal brain tissue may be removed for examination (biopsy); if identified as abnormal, as much of the tumour is removed as safely possible.

The procedure is performed under image guidance with a special CT or MRI scan taken 3 days prior to the surgery. A 3D navigation system uses information retrieved from the scan to guide your surgeon to the precise location of the abnormal tissue, and minimize manipulation or injury of normal or critical structures.

Scalp hair at the site of surgery is shaved and the scalp cleaned. An incision is made over the area of the tumour. A high-speed drill is used to remove a section of the skull. The covering membrane of the brain called the dura is carefully incised. Specialized tools are used to remove the tumour either completely or in pieces. Part of the tumour may be left behind if too deep or in a dangerous location. The dura is then stitched closed, and the bone replaced and secured with screws and plates. Your brain functions are continually monitored throughout the procedure and you may sometimes need to be awake/conscious to verify functions such as speech during the surgery.

The risks associated with a craniotomy are rare and include infection, seizures, clot formation, and temporary or permanent neurological impairment.