Surgery for brain tumours

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Extensive tips, issues and a detailed description of brain surgery for a child with a brain tumour. Answers from Canadian Paediatric Hospitals.

Key points

  • Resection is surgery to remove a tumour.
  • After the surgery, there are physical changes your child may experience that will get better in time.
  • Before the operation, the surgeon will discuss the risks of the procedure and the details of the operation with you.

Your child may require surgery to remove their brain tumour. While serious complications are rare, it is a major surgery and it is best that you and your child understand what will happen during the operation.

What is resection?

Resection is another word for surgery to remove a tumour. Partial resection means that part of the tumour has been removed. Total resection occurs if the entire tumour is removed.

What are the risks of surgery?

Before the operation, the surgeon will talk to you about the possible risks of your child’s procedure. After the operation, there are some physical changes your child may experience that will get better in time. More serious complications are rare. Your child will be closely monitored after the operation to watch for any signs of complications developing, and they will be treated immediately.

What happens during brain surgery?

Neurosurgery (or brain surgery) is an operation on the brain. The surgeon cuts open part of the skull to see the brain. They use special tools to cut the tumour away. After the surgery, the skull is sewn or stapled back together and then the skin is sewn or stapled together.

One type of operation is called a craniotomy. With a craniotomy, the surgeon removes a piece of the skull and reattaches it when he is done. Another type of operation is called a craniectomy. In this case, the skull is not replaced.

During the operation, the surgeon may insert a small plastic tube into a ventricle in your child’s brain. This tube is called an external ventricular drain (EVD). It prevents a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during the surgery. The EVD drains excess fluid from the brain into a bag and is usually temporary. In some cases, a more permanent device, called a shunt, is needed.

Last updated: July 10th 2009