About brain surgery

What is brain surgery?

The term brain surgery refers to a variety of medical procedures that engage in repairing structural problems in the brain.

There are many types of brain surgery. The type used is based on the area of the brain and the situation being treated. Advance in medical technology has enabled surgeons to operate on portions of the brain without a single incision in or near the head.

Brain surgery is a critical and complicated procedure. The type of brain surgery done depends highly on the situation being treated. For example, a brain aneurysm can be repaired using a catheter that’s introduced into an artery in the groin.

Why brain surgery is done

Brain surgery is done to accurate physical abnormalities in the brain. These can be due to birth defect, disease, injury, or other problems.

You may need brain surgery if you have any of the following conditions in or around the brain:

  • an aneurysm
  • bleeding
  • blood clots
  • damage to the protective tissue called the “dura”
  • epilepsy
  • abscesses
  • nerve damage or nerve irritation
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • pressure after head injury
  • skull fracture
  • a stroke
  • brain tumors
  • fluid building up in the brain
  • abnormal blood vessels

Types of brain surgery

There are several different types of brain surgery. The type used depends on the problem being treated.


A craniotomy involves making an incision in the scalp and creating a hole known as a bone flap in the skull. The hole and incision are made near the area of the brain being treated.

During open brain surgery, your surgeon may opt to:

  • eliminate tumors
  • clip off an aneurysm
  • drain blood or fluid from an infection
  • remove abnormal brain tissue

The risks of brain surgery

All surgical actions carry some risk. Brain surgery is a major medical event. It carries extra risk.

Possible risks associated with brain surgery include:

  • coma
  • impaired speech, vision, coordination, or balance
  • infection in the brain or at the wound site
  • memory problems
  • seizures
  • stroke
  • allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • bleeding in the brain
  • a blood clot
  • brain swelling