If you or someone close to you are about to undergo a head or brain surgery, it’s natural that you feel scared and confused. It’s not pleasant knowing that doctors are going to operate your brain and you might be concerned with the procedure itself and the recovery process. Once you start doing a bit of research online you’ll soon notice that there are different kinds of head and brain surgery. To help you understand it better, we’ve covered the basics concerning head and brain surgery in this article.
The reasons behind the procedure
Your doctor may decide that you should get brain surgery in case you have a brain tumor in order to remove it, but also if there’s bleeding or blood clots. Also, blood vessels in your brain can be the cause of many concerns and problems, so you could undergo a surgery if the blood vessels are weak (the procedure called brain aneurysm repair) or if there are some abnormalities spotted. If you’ve been in an accident and you’ve fractured your skull, doctors might decide to operate to relieve the pressure in the brain which also happens if your brain swells (hydrocephalus).
Before the procedure
In the days preceding the surgery doctors might ask you not to take certain medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin, as these are known blood thinners. It’s also a good idea to stop smoking because smokers take much longer to heal after surgery than non-smokers. The night before surgery you will be asked to wash your hair with a special shampoo, and the morning of your surgery you will take medicines with only a small sip of water. You shouldn’t eat or drink anything up 2 hours before the surgery. There are some things you shouldn’t keep secret from your doctors or nurses, for example the fact that you’ve been drinking a lot, that you’re taking medicine even if they’re just vitamins and supplements.
Details of the process
Even though arranging a brain surgery in Brisbane itself can be really complicated, but it’s not always the case. The procedure is simple: the surgeon will use a special drill to create a hole in your skull and remove a small piece of the bone, so called bone flap. It can happen that a small hole is drilled first and that the surgeon will use an endoscope (a tube with a small light and camera on the end) to examine your brain. There are cases where the entire surgery is done with tools through the endoscope. Depending on the reason for surgery, the doctor might prevent bleeding by clipping off an aneurism or removing any abnormal blood vessels. If you have a tumor, it will be removed or biopsied for closer examination.
Any surgery, no matter how minor and routine it is, carries certain risk, and brain and head surgeries are no different. You might react badly to anesthesia or other medicine you’ll be given or you might have trouble breathing during the surgery. The risk of bleeding is always very high, as is the risk of blood clots and infection after the procedure. Even if surgery is successful, there might be some problems with memory and speech, balance and coordination, or you may experience general muscle weakness. The good news is that most of these are likely to go away after a while if you follow doctors’ instructions.
Aftermath and recovery
After your surgery, the most important thing will be to rest and follow doctors’ orders so that you can recover. You will, of course, be closely monitored by the team that did the surgery and the health care professionals that you trust will make sure there’s no damage done to your brain. After you wake up, it’s likely that the doctor or perhaps a nurse will shine a light in your eye to check how they react; they will also ask you some questions and ask you to do a few simple tasks. It’s possible that will need oxygen for a few days, and you will likely keep your head elevated to reduce swelling. The swelling, on the other hand, is perfectly normal after such surgery, and you will get some strong medication to alleviate the pain.
Brain surgery is a critical and complicated process. The type of brain surgery done depends highly on the condition being treated. For example, a brain aneurysm can be repaired using a catheter that’s introduced into an artery in the groin. If the aneurysm has ruptured, an open surgery called craniotomy may be used. Surgeons, while being as careful and thorough as possible, treat each surgery on a case-by-case basis.