- 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
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
At the 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
- An 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 medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, such as:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Blood thinners
- Anti-platelet medications
- 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
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:
- Medication 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 area 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 medications you were given, or that continue for more than two days after leaving the hospital
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications 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 December 5, 2013.
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 December 5, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013 -
- Update Date: 12/05/2013 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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