If your child is diagnosed with a brain tumour, one of the treatments they may need to have is an operation on their brain (neurosurgery).
Neurosurgery for brain tumours in children may be used to:
Your child will be woken up in an intensive care unit (ICU) or a high dependency unit (HDU) to allow for closer monitoring. Visiting hours are usually very flexible, especially for young children, so you will be able to be with them.
If they have a dressing on their wound, this is likely to stay on for around 5 days after surgery. Stitches are usually removed 5-14 days afterwards and may be dissolvable. They may have some swelling and bruising on their face.
They will have a number of tubes coming in and out of their body. These are to help with:
Many factors will influence how your child feels after surgery. They may:
These effects usually disappear shortly after surgery. If you are worried about any symptoms, speak to your child's health team.
Your child will need to rest for a number of days afterwards, but will not be kept in bed any longer than is necessary. Hospitals like to get their patients up and get moving as soon as is safe.
Advice about hair washing, going back to school and taking part in sports will be given by your child's healthcare team when your child is discharged from hospital.
Immediately after surgery, your child may be given the following medications:
Your child is likely to have a brain scan soon after surgery to see if any, or how much, of the tumour remains, and to see how much swelling there is.
Your child may then be given chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, to get rid of any remaining tumour cells.
Although your child’s treatment plan will be carefully developed by healthcare professionals to be as effective as possible while having the fewest risks or side-effects, sometimes neurosurgery may not work. This can be worrying, but just because one treatment hasn’t worked, it doesn’t mean others won’t.
Find out more about what happens when treatment doesn’t work.
In planning for your surgery you may wish to know more about who you are being seen by or seek a second opinion, The Society of British Neurological Surgeons Neurosurgical National Audit Programme has information about neurosurgeons at each centre in the UK along with their neurosurgical outcomes data. You can also view information on the NHS website about consultants specialising in neurosurgery in England.
When looking at this information its important however to remember that statistics are not always able to allow for additional influencing factors such as the complexity of cases seen and the level of risk involved. Some surgeons may have lower survival rates as they are willing to take on more complex cases therefore it's important that these aspects are also taken into consideration.
Our neurosurgery factsheet explains what to expect when you have surgery and our Information and Support Team are also here to help answer any questions you might have.
Find more information about neurosurgery for children in the full fact sheet - including when they can return to activities, such as sport or travel, and longer-term effects.
Find more information about Neurosurgery for children in the full fact sheet - Clear print version,designed to RNIB guidelines - including when they can return to activities, such as sport or travel, and longer-term effects.
If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:
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Our free Brain Tumour Information Pack has been designed to help you feel confident when discussing treatment and care options with your medical team.