Craniotomy is a surgical opening made in the skull for treatment of several types of problems in the brain. Special tools are used to remove a piece of the skull and allow access to the brain for surgical treatment. The most commons reasons for having a craniotomy include blunt or penetrating head trauma, tumors, aneurysyms and arteriovenous malformations (AVM), and brain abscess.
After a craniotomy is completed, the surgeon will talk with your family and friends. You'll wake up in a recovery area. Then you'll be moved to a special unit, often an ICU (intensive care unit), where you can be closely monitored.
On waking, you may have a headache, nausea, and body aches. Your nurses can give you medications to ease the pain and nausea. Monitors may be used to measure your heart rate or the pressure inside your skull. You may be wearing special leg stockings to help prevent blood clots. And for a short while, you may be placed on a ventilator. This machine helps you breathe.
You may be moved from the ICU to a hospital room within hours. Or it may take up to 2 days or longer. Once in your room, you are taught breathing exercises to keep your lungs clear. Your health care team will work to have you eating and walking as soon as possible.
If you are having a hard time doing certain physical activities, therapy may be prescribed. Depending on your needs, therapists can work with you to improve balance, strength, speech, and daily living skills. If you are having problems with strength or movement, your therapist may suggest installing handrails in hallways or bathrooms at home.