Neurosurgery for brain tumours (adults)

Neurosurgery is one of the main treatment options following the diagnosis of a brain tumour. Learn more about neurosurgery and brain tumours, including biopsy procedures, tumour removal and brain surgery side effects.

Why is neurosurgery performed for brain tumours?

Neurosurgery aims to completely remove your tumour or remove as much of it as possible. This type of surgery is performed on the brain or spinal cord by a highly specialised doctor known as a neurosurgeon.

Neurosurgery may also be performed for other reasons related to the treatment and management of your tumour and its associated symptoms.

Surgery can have several purposes:

  • Diagnosis of tumour type (biopsy)
  • Whole or partial removal of the tumour (craniotomy)
  • Insertion of chemotherapy drugs directly into the brain
  • Reduction of associated conditions, such as a build-up of the cerebrospinal fluid

It is important to know that neurosurgery is not always possible. If your brain tumour is too close to an important part of the brain, surgery may be too risky. In this case, another treatment option will be suggested.

After neurosurgery

Immediate effects

When you wake up after surgery, you will have a number of tubes coming in and out of your body to help:

  • Drain fluids
  • Give you water, nutrients and medicine
  • Monitor your body

You may have swelling and bruising on your face, and you may have a dressing on your wound, but not necessarily. You may also feel some temporary worsening of the symptoms you had before the surgery - this is usually due to swelling of the brain following the surgery. You may be given steroids to help with this..

Other temporary, post-operative effects include:

  • Sickness and nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Momentary phases of feeling dizzy / confused
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tiredness
  • New symptoms, e.g. personality changes, poor balance / co-ordination, speech problems and epileptic seizures (fits).

Neurosurgery is a major operation - you will need to rest for a number of days.

Follow-on treatment

After a few days, you are likely to have a brain scan to see how much, if any, of the tumour remains and how much swelling you have. You may then be given chemotherapy and/ or radiotherapy, to get rid of any remaining tumour cells. You may also be given:

  • Steroids- to reduce swelling and pressure on the brain
  • Anti-epileptic medication - as a preventative measure against seizures ( 'fits') due to increased pressure in the head

Get your free brain tumour information pack

Our FREE Brain Tumour Information Pack has been designed to help you through this difficult time, to guide you through the healthcare system, answer your questions, and reassure you that you're not alone so that you feel confident when discussing treatment and care options with your medical team.

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