Do you want to know what recovery is like after open skull surgery or craniotomy?
Has a craniotomy been performed for you and you are currently undergoing a recovery course and want to learn more about this course?
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One of the most important and complex surgeries is brain surgery. The term brain surgery is actually a set of different techniques and methods by which structural problems in the brain are corrected. These surgeries have different techniques depending on the underlying disease and the damaged anatomical area in the brain. New methods have been developed today that can enable surgeons to work on parts of the brain without craniotomy and splitting and cutting the skull.
For example, if a person has a brain aneurysm, it may be possible to repair the aneurysm by inserting a catheter into the groin artery in stages that have not yet ruptured. But if the aneurysm ruptures, open skull surgery or craniotomy must be performed, during which a slit is made in the skull.
In what cases is brain surgery necessary?
We said that brain surgery is called craniotomy if it is done with a slit in the skull. Brain surgery is performed to correct many organic disorders and abnormalities in the brain. Abnormalities in the brain can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as being congenital from birth, or it may be the result of a disease or acquired brain injury ( tumors, abscesses, infections, and Etc.) Now, for whatever reason there is any of the following problems in and around the brain and doctors deem it necessary, a craniotomy or open brain operation is used.
- Brain abscesses
- Blood clots in the arteries of the brain
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Abnormal blood vessels inside the skull
- Cerebrovascular aneurysms
- Parkinson’s disease
- Nerve damage or excessive nerve stimulation
- Cerebrovascular events
- Brain tumors
- Skull fractures
- Compression of brain tissue following trauma
Sometimes some of these problems pose a serious threat to a person’s health and become life-threatening. For example, intracranial vascular aneurysms do not require open brain surgery, but if they rupture, they often require open cranial surgery or craniotomy.
How many brain surgeries are performed?
There are different types of brain surgery and the technique and type depends on the underlying problem and the general health condition and needs of the patient.
Craniotomy is a method of brain surgery in which a doctor makes an incision in the scalp and makes a hole in the skull, and with this incision and this hole, treatment is performed near the damaged area of the brain. After surgery, the removed bone is placed in the perforated area and fixed with sutures, wires, etc. If there are tumors, infections, or edema, the area may not be closed.
Used to remove small amounts of tumor tissue. Therefore, in this method, the brain may be examined with a microscope and there is no need to cut the skin or pierce the skull bone. In modern methods, a small incision is made in the skull to allow biopsy equipment to enter the brain.
- Endonasal endoscopic surgeries
This surgery allows neurosurgeons to detect and treat the tumor through the nose and sinuses of the person. In this method, no incision is made and without the incision, parts of the brain are provided.
An endoscope is a device equipped with lights and a camera that improves the surgeon’s vision by magnifying. For pituitary gland tumors, tumors in the cranial base, and tumors that grow in the lower part of the brain, endonasal endoscopic surgery through the nostrils can be used. Without much invasion and with minimal invasion, the surgeon has access to the tumor.
What is the meaning of craniotomy?
In fact, it is a brain surgery in which part of the skull bone is temporarily removed and the surgeon can directly access the brain tissue. This method is used to remove tumors, drain blood clots and bleeding, and reduce intracranial pressure. Surgery is a vital procedure in patients with brain injuries and post-traumatic brain injury.
It can also allow the doctor to implant brain therapies in patients with various cancers and Parkinson’s.
Craniotomy and its recovery
General anesthesia is required for craniotomy. Sometimes local anesthesia may be sufficient for surgery and the patient undergoes surgery while awake, and MRI and CT scans must be performed before craniotomy to check the condition of tissues and bones to Be able to determine the right angle to access different areas of the brain. On the other hand, MRI results determine the amount of bone that is to be temporarily removed from the skull by craniotomy and are determined by MRI.
When completed, the separated bone piece will be replaced with titanium, screws, and other types of stabilizers such as cement, etc.
What should we do after craniotomy?
Excessive head rotation should be avoided and standard protective helmets should be used to prevent head injuries. If there is a taste of salinity in the mouth or if there is discharge from the operation site, be sure to inform the doctor and nurse.
Strain, coughing and sneezing, which increase intracranial pressure, should be avoided.
The patient’s head should remain dry until the stitches are removed. Anticonvulsant medications may also be recommended before and after surgery and play an important role in preventing epileptic seizures.
Doctors believe that when a person has a craniotomy, he can use anticonvulsant drugs for 7 days. Usually the classic drug used is phenytoin, but today a drug called Levetiracetam is used. The use of this drug has become very common because it will have less drug interaction than phenytoin.
Complications after craniotomy
Pain that can be moderate to severe and recurrent after surgery is another complication of bacterial meningitis. It is interesting to note that 80% of people who undergo craniotomy develop bacterial meningitis after surgery during the recovery period.
What are the dangers lurking after a craniotomy?
There is no surgery that has no side effects. There are also general complications of any craniotomy surgery. Among the special complications that are only related to craniotomy are the following:
- Individual reactions to drugs used during anesthesia
- Neurological and neurological damage that can cause muscle and muscle paralysis, which is usually temporary.
- Decreased mind function
- Permanent brain injury and the disabilities associated with this permanent brain injury.
- Sometimes cerebrospinal fluid leakage occurs and will need to be repaired.
Care in the recovery period after craniotomy
If a person has had brain surgery, he or she may feel pain and numbness at the site for several weeks. You may notice headaches, dizziness when getting up, or problems with decreased concentration.
The time required for a person to recover from a craniotomy is 4 to 8 weeks. It may become bruised around the patient’s eyes, and it may begin to itch as the wound heals.
It is better to use medications as well as ice cubes during this period to reduce headaches and swelling, as well as to reduce and relieve itching and body aches. In the first day or two after radiotherapy and brain surgery, it is better to use a cold compress to reduce pain, swelling and discomfort. Each time, apply a cold compress on the area for 10 to 20 minutes, and between the ice and the scalp, be sure to use a towel cloth and avoid direct contact of the ice with the skin.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice swelling and discharge at the site of surgery that has remained for more than two weeks and has not healed. Be sure to see your doctor for a checkup within a week or two after brain surgery.
There are different types of sutures and doctors choose different types according to the situation. Sometimes the suture may be absorbed by the body on its own, otherwise the doctor will remove it after about 12 days. It is possible that when the swelling decreases, a fovea occurs in the head, which is not important if it is not severe.
People have pain when chewing on the jaw after surgery. The problem is solved over time and avoiding solid foods.
It should be noted that in general, the speed of recovery and the healing process of different people after keratotomy are different. When a benign tumor is present, additional treatment is usually not needed after the lesion has been proven to be benign and that the lesion has been completely removed from the brain, unless imaging is used at regular intervals, as your doctor will tell you. However, in patients with some degree of malignancy, depending on the pathology of the malignant tumor, it may be performed after chemotherapy or radiotherapy surgery, or both. Therefore, the doctor’s advice after determining the type of tumor is definitely effective in the program after brain surgery.
Another case that is sometimes necessary after some neurosurgery is physiotherapy and rehabilitation, in which case the doctor’s advice varies from person to person.
What are the tips and actions that we should follow in the recovery period after craniotomy?
You should rest after surgery whenever you feel tired.
It is very normal to feel tired and weak during the day after surgery, so you should plan to take the time to take a nap. Adequate sleep and adequate quality will definitely accelerate recovery.
If you have undergone a craniotomy and are recovering, do not lie down while lying down and resting. If you sleep on the floor, fold the top of the mattress if possible or lean one back against the wall at a 45-degree angle to create a hospital bed position and a high body level by pulling the mattress on the back.
If you sleep on the bed, put a large back and pillow on top of the mattress. You can also place the head above the legs by placing bricks or pieces of wood under the bases of the upper part of your bed.
If you lie down, you should get up slowly to avoid headaches and dizziness.
After 3 to 5 days after surgery, you can wash your head with lukewarm water and baby shampoo if your doctor allows, but you should be careful that the bath should not be prolonged. The important thing is that you should not dye your hair until three months after craniotomy surgery.
One of the most important points is that if you have had a craniotomy, you should start moving when you can. So go for a walk and try to increase the amount of your walk every day compared to the day before. Walking helps improve blood circulation and prevents the nature of the lungs and constipation.
The next point is to avoid lifting heavy objects, pushing, sneezing and coughing.
It is said that after a craniotomy, the appropriateness and inadequacy of the trip depends on the decision and prescription of the doctor.
And the last point that is said about sex before and after brain surgery, it depends only on the ability and desire of the patient, There is also no prohibition on having sex during the period of observation and even radiation therapy when radiation therapy is needed after craniotomy of malignant tumors.
Diet during recovery
Sometimes you can continue your normal diet. If you have abdominal pain, it is better to avoid stimulant foods, fatty foods and heavy foods
Another point if you see that your constipation has not been resolved for several days, be sure to ask your doctor for help, doctors in these cases prescribe weak laxatives to relieve your constipation.
Strain while defecating can cause increased intracranial pressure and sometimes serious problems
What is the care of the injury site after craniotomy?
You need to keep the wound dressing clean and tidy every day and whenever you think you need to change it.
You should avoid trauma to the site of the head surgery for up to 6 months as it can cause the bone to move.
What is the use of drugs during the craniotomy recovery period?
Depending on your situation, your doctor will advise you on the time and type of medication you should take. Internal medicine and heart medications such as diabetes and antihypertensive drugs should be taken according to the time of discharge and be sure to see a doctor for re-examination one month after surgery.
If you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin and Plavix, etc , you should discuss this with your doctor before surgery. Your doctor may change the time you take these medications again if necessary.
Antipyretic and analgesic drugs should be taken according to the doctor’s instructions.
Excessive use of painkillers disrupts the wound healing process.
If diagnosed, antibiotics should be taken as directed at the prescribed time, and even if you feel better after a while, you should not stop taking antibiotics arbitrarily. The course of antibiotic treatment should be completed as directed by your doctor.
If your doctor prescribes anticonvulsant medication to prevent seizures, know that it is very important to take this medication after brain surgery.
What will sports activities be like after craniotomy?
Avoid high-risk sports activities such as climbing and descending ladders for up to three months. This may even take longer.
Strenuous physical activity such as weightlifting, cycling, and aerobic exercise should be avoided for at least three months, and strenuous exercise is prohibited for at least six months after brain surgery.
Due to the opening of brain tissue and manipulation of brain tissue, there may be temporary weakness of the limbs. In this case, pay attention to your doctor’s instructions, and after the end of the period of immobility and rest, you should start correct activities under a specialized program Physiotherapist, go back to normal life.
When should you see a doctor immediately?
If you notice one or more of the following symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor.
- If your seizures get worse
- If the type of seizure has changed
- If you have changes in your urination and defecation and you have difficulty and incontinence.
- If you have forgotten something
- If you have hallucinations
- If you have vision or hearing problems
- If you have a significant change in behavior and mood
- If you have nausea and vomiting
- If you have weakness in your legs and arms, you will have difficulty walking
- If your headaches are severe and increasing and they are persistent
- If your headaches have become more severe
- If you find speech disorders
- If you have any feeling of tightness, tingling or numbness in the face, arms and legs
- Excessive fatigue
- And hardly wake up
In all these cases you should consult your doctor.
In craniotomy recovery, if you have any of the following, call the emergency room right away.
- If you have respiratory problems
- If you have a strange or unprecedented seizure
- If you experience redness, swelling and pain in the leg
- If you have an increased sensitivity to light
- Dry and stiff neck
- You have a fever above 38 degrees and lethargy
Go to the emergency room immediately.