What Are the Different Types of Surgery for a Brain Tumor?

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  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2020
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Craniotomy, ultrasonic aspiration, and laser microsurgery are the three types of surgery for a brain tumor. The type of procedure performed is usually decided by the size and location of the tumor and the type of tumor that has formed and attached itself to brain tissues. Some may also categorize an open biopsy as a type of surgery for a brain tumor, as the tumor and brain are exposed during a procedure to sample a portion of the tumor to determine if it contains cancerous cells.

The most common type of surgery for a brain tumor is a craniotomy. The operating physician will shave a portion of the person’s head and remove a piece of bone to expose the area where the tumor is located. Some physicians perform an awake craniotomy procedure in order to complete brain mapping before removing large portions of tissue or operating on vital areas of the brain related to speech, motor functions, and other traits. Electrical currents are sent through certain areas of the brain after the person has come out of heavy anesthesia, even though he or she will still be sedated. If the electrical current hinders a person’s function, the physician will mark this area to be avoided during the removal of cancerous tissues.


An ultrasonic aspiration surgery for a brain tumor is another type of procedure that can remove cancerous tissue. A needle is inserted into the malignant tumor, and ultrasonic waves are sent through it. The waves break the tumor apart, which can then be suctioned out. An implant is often inserted into the original site of the tumor that releases chemotherapy-type chemicals after the surgery is completed.

Laser microsurgery is a minimally invasive procedure that has fewer associated risks. An endoscopy is used to locate the tumor, and the laser heats the tumor to a point of destruction. This procedure is sometimes performed as a follow up to a craniotomy if additional cancerous tissue is found.

Some brain tumors, because of their size or location, cannot be removed through surgical methods. A physician can often only provide solutions that can help ease pain and prevent severe complications, such as inserting a shunt to drain spinal fluid that has built up in the brain and caused pressure. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments can sometimes help to shrink the size of the tumor, which can allow the oncologist to operate. A patient should consult a physician about treatment options for a brain tumor.



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