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Awake Craniotomy

Awake craniotomy is a revolutionary procedure used for mapping and removing lesions in vitally important areas of the brain. This helps neurosurgeons monitor brain function while a surgery is in process, leading to better neurological post-surgery outcomes. 

During an awake craniotomy, a patient is placed under general anesthesia while the brain is being exposed. Next, an anesthesiologist wakes the patient after part of the skull had been removed. Based on the location of the tumor and the function to be preserved, speech pathologists are in the operating room throughout the procedure to test the patient’s abilities. That might include naming objects, looking at pictures, and completing word association tasks. If cognition is the area of concern, this testing might also include performing some type of multitasking or other neuropsychology testing. Brain mapping technology is used to ensure specific structures aren’t damaged and to remove as much of the tumor as possible. 

After the brain tumor has been removed, the patient is put back to sleep and their surgical site is closed. Patients typically spend one to two days in the ICU and will experience some difficulties the first few days after surgery due to normal expected brain swelling. Patients also receive referrals for speech and language therapy to help them regain their baseline cognitive abilities. Most patients return to their preoperative status or baseline in two to six weeks after surgery.  

For more information about brain tumor care at CHI Memorial Neuroscience Institute, call (423) 206-9480.