- Stereotactic biopsy—A computer is used to help locate where the biopsy will be taken, so only a small hole will be needed.
- Burr hole—A small hole is made in the skull over the biopsy area.
- Craniotomy—A piece of skull is cut out and then put back in after the biopsy is taken.
Reasons for Procedure
- Brain swelling
- Damage to brain which may cause:
- Reaction to the anesthesia (eg, light-headedness, low blood pressure, wheezing)
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
At your appointment before your surgery, you can expect:
- A neurological exam—to find out how your nerves work, your mental status, and your motor and sensory abilities
- MRI , CT scan , or PET scan of the brain—images of your body that will help your doctor plan the surgery
Time set aside for questions:
- Questions from your doctor—Do you have any new symptoms? What kind of help do you have at home?
- Questions you should ask your doctor—What will my recovery be like? How soon will I know the biopsy results? When will I be able to return to work?
- Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
- You will be asked to fast for 8-12 hours before surgery. Ask your doctor if you should take your morning medicines with a sip of water before your surgery.
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, such as:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, aspirin )
- Blood thinners, like clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- Local anesthesia and light sedation (for stereotactic biopsies)—blocks just the area where surgery is taking place; light sedation makes you sleepy during surgery
- General anesthesia (for craniotomies or burr holes)—blocks pain and keeps you asleep during surgery; given through an IV (needle) in your hand or arm
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
Your brain function will be checked frequently. This will include:
- Pupil reactions
- Mental status
You may receive:
- Medicine to prevent seizures
- Antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection
- The dressing will be removed in 24-48 hours. A lighter dressing will be place on your head.
- Try not to strain or hold your breath. This can increase pressure on your brain.
- Get out of bed and walk. This will help to prevent problems, like blood clots and pneumonia .
- Get help from family and friends as you recover.
- Keep your incision clean and dry. Monitor it for redness or drainage.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Get enough rest. Also, eat a healthy diet to help your body recover.
Call Your Doctor
- Any changes in physical ability—balance, strength, or movement
- Any changes in mental status—level of consciousness, memory, thinking, or responsiveness
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Headache that does not go away
- Changes in vision
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given, or that continue for more than two days after leaving the hospital
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Trouble controlling your bladder and/or bowels
- New seizures
- Shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
American Brain Tumor Association http://www.abta.org/
National Brain Tumor Foundation http://www.braintumor.org/
Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada http://www.braintumour.ca/
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/
About stereotactic brain biopsy. University of Florida Department of Neurosurgery website. Available at: http://www.neurosurgery.ufl.edu/clinical-specialties/stereotactic-brain-biopsy.shtml . Accessed September 17, 2009.
The essential guide to brain tumors. National Brain Tumor Foundation website. Available at: http://www.braintumor.org/upload/contents/330/GuideFINAL2007.pdf . Accessed September 15, 2009.
Your surgery guide, information about your craniotomy or biopsy for a brain tumor. Cedars Sinai Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.braintumortreatment.com/What-to-Expect/The-Treatment-Experience/Your-Surgery-Guide.aspx . Accessed September 17, 2009.
Zaret BL, Jatlow PI, Katz LD. The Yale University School of Medicine Patient’s Guide to Medical Tests . New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company; 1997.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
- Reviewer: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/30/2012 -
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