Insertion of chemotherapy drugs directly to the brain
During a craniotomy, you may have chemotherapy drugs inserted directly to the brain to get rid of any remaining tumour cells.This can be done via:
Wafers, coated with the chemotherapy drug carmustine, placed into the space where the tumour was. They gradually dissolve over 2-3 weeks, releasing the chemotherapy.
A dome-shaped device, inserted during surgery, which sits underneath the scalp and delivers chemotherapy directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to flow round the brain.
Reduction of associated symptoms
Headaches are a common symptom of brain tumours caused by a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This can happen if the tumour is blocking the flow of CSF.
To reduce this pressure, neurosurgeons can insert a tube, called a 'shunt', through your skull and into your brain to drain some of the excess fluid away. This will stay in place for some time.
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.
Other temporary, post-operative effects include:
- Sickness and nausea
- Sore throat
- Momentary phases of feeling dizzy / confused
- Difficulty swallowing
- 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.
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