The idea of sitting at a doctor's office waiting to be told if you have a brain tumor is terrifying. Then, learning you will have a needle in your brain to remove this tumor may make you feel queasy and afraid. The notion someone will cut into your brain, as if it's a juicy steak, can make you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally distressed. Here's a video of the five steps you can expect if you need brain tumor surgery that may ease your mind.

In the video, "How is brain surgery performed?" Dr. Greg Foltz of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute describes brain surgery as nothing to really fear. The actual procedure is so routine, he says, it's like clockwork.

Read More: General Anesthesia And The Human Brain

Patient Meets Anesthesiologist And Enters Operating Room

A patient will come in the morning to meet their anesthesiologist at 7:30, they'll get a little medicine, which makes them kinda sleepy, and then they're taken back to the operating room. Once they're in the operating room they get more medicine, which makes them fall into a deep sleep. Then the team of doctors will get the patient really comfortably by propping them up on their side, put pillows front and behind, and wrap them up in a nice warm cuddly blanket to get them all snug and hold them in place. Their head is placed in a head holder so it stays absolutely still.

Computer Used To Map The Brain

A computer is used on all operations to map the brain, and this is what's made neurosurgery so incredibly safe and accurate. There are cameras in the ceiling that are taking continuous movies as the doctor traces out all around the patient's face and head, making a three dimensional model in space, of the patient's head.

This is then matched up with the MRI scan of the patient's head and brain. On the screen is a 3D rendering of the brain, and then the doctor takes a wand and points at a spot on the patient's head, which will show on the screen exactly where he is pointing. For example, if the patient has a tumor, and the tumor is in this location, the doctor can spot it exactly using the computer. He is able to plan his incision and his window in the bone to be exactly right over where he wants.

The Incision

Once the brain is mapped, the doctor doesn't cut hair, but instead finds the spot, and parts the hair by putting a lot of shampoo in the hair to hold it in place. Incisions are made in the line of the part and that opens the scalp up and allows to expose the skull. The computer is used again to identify where the window needs to be. Special drills and tools allow for a small piece of bone to be removed, which then gets put in some antibiotic solution. Once that's done, there's the covering of the brain, which is then opened, and that exposes the surface of the brain.

Patient Wakes Up From Sedation

Patients have to wake up from sedation so doctors can map the surface of the brain, which involves stimulating the surface of the brain. When it's done, whatever is there will be activated. This helps pinpoint the safe areas where doctor can make an incision and go in the brain to where the tumor is located. After, the tip of a special instrument, ultrasonic aspiration, vibrates at ultrasonic speeds. Ultrasound will dissolve a kidney stone, which is like a rock.

It can be set at a frequency that will dissolve the brain tumor, but leave the brain's healthy tissue completely normal. Ultrasound devices can be placed right in the middle of the tumor, and turned on, "painting around" the area so the tumor dissolves and gets sucked out the inside of that needle, leaving the surrounding brain in tact.

The Aftermath

Once the tumor has been removed, the doctor will just rinse things out well. The incision will be closed up, and the bone placed back in, connecting it to the skull with little titanium plates and screws. These are non-magnetic, so they don't set off metal detectors; and you can get MRI scans. They hold the bone in place so the bone can fuse over the next three months, while six months later, the bone would be just fused across. Doctors will sew up the scalp, put some staples in the skin, and sort of fluff the hair up again so no one can see the incision.

Read More: When Should Surgeons Stop Cutting Brain Tumors?  

The whole procedure takes about two hours. The patient will wake up and spend 45 minutes in recovery. Most patients go home in two to three days, depending on their reaction to anesthesia and pain medicines. If needed, radiation and chemotherapy starts about a month after surgery ends.

See Also:

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