Preparing for a Craniotomy

Craniotomy is a surgical opening made in the skull for treatment of several types of problems in the brain.  Special tools are used to remove a piece of the skull and allow access to the brain for surgical treatment. The most commons reasons for having a craniotomy include blood clot, brain swelling, hydrocephalus (enlarged cavities of the brain), tumors, aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVM), and brain abscess.

As your surgery nears, you may wonder about your future healthcare needs. You may also have questions about how to prepare for your craniotomy. The information below can help.

Man and woman sitting at table looking at paperwork.

Arranging for the future

You may have concerns about your ability to make decisions about treatment in the future. Advance directives which include living wills and legal power of medical attorney can help ease such worries. Recording your wishes on these special legal forms helps ensure that you will get the care you want even if you can no longer make decisions. Your doctor or the hospital can provide the forms that apply in your state.

Before your surgery

In many cases, a craniotomy is a planned procedure. At other times, it is done as an emergency procedure. If there is time before surgery, you may be told to do the following:

  • Weeks ahead of time, you may be asked to donate blood for your surgery. You may also be told to stop taking aspirin and other medicines that thin the blood. If you smoke, you should stop now.

  • Shortly before the day of your craniotomy, you will have an exam. This ensures that you are healthy enough for surgery.

  • Follow any directions you are given for taking medicines, especially medicines that thin the blood, and for not eating or drinking before surgery.