Brain surgery is a procedure used in the treatment of various problems in the brain and surrounding structures, including brain tumors, bleeding in the brain and infection, among others. In a brain surgery procedure, the surgeon will make a surgical cut through the scalp, then create a hole in the skull and remove a piece called a bone flap (this part of the procedure is called a craniotomy). The craniotomy sometimes utilizes computers and imaging scans to determine the exact spot in the brain that needs to be treated, a technique that requires either a frame placed onto the skull or a frameless system that uses superficially placed markers on the scalp, a procedure called a stereotactic craniotomy.
If possible, the surgeon will then make a smaller hole and inserted a lighted tube called an endoscope, a procedure called an endoscopic craniotomy; the surgery will be performed with tools placed through the endoscope.
These surgeries may be used to clip an aneurysm, remove a tumor, remove abnormal brain tissue, or drain blood or infection. Afterward, the bone flap is usually replaced; if it is not, perhaps because the brain was swollen, or the surgery involves a tumor or infection, the procedure is called a craniectomy.
In a stereotactic brain biopsy, scans of the brain are used to allow surgeons to pinpoint an area of the brain from which to remove tissue for examination under a microscope. This same computer imagery can be used to remove fluid from abscesses, hematomas or cysts (called stereotactic aspiration) and for tightly directed radiation treatment (stereotactic radiosurgery).