What is a Craniotomy?
Craniotomy is a complex surgical procedure that involves removing a piece of the skull so a surgeon can view the brain. Following surgery, the bone flap, which is the piece of skull that was removed, is carefully put back in place. Craniotomy is often necessary for treating arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), which are rare lesions composed of abnormal knotted blood vessels such as arteries and veins. Although AVMs can form in any area of the body, they are particularly dangerous, because of their tendency to bleed, when they form in the brain. AVMs are diagnosed through a series of tests, which may include CT scans, MRI scans and angiograms.
How is a Craniotomy performed?
During craniotomy, an incision is made in the scalp, and the bone flap is removed, allowing the surgeon to precisely locate the AVM. The goal of craniotomy is to remove the abnormal blood vessels without damaging normal brain tissue. The technique used for craniotomy depends on the size and location of the AVM, as well as on the patient’s overall health. Following craniotomy for AVM, a patient spends about a week in the hospital, and is given pain medication to relieve any discomfort.