Side Effects of Brain Surgery


Doctors use brain surgery to treat different conditions affecting the brain and brain structures by opening the skull. Brain surgery treats hemorrhages caused by head injuries, tissue damage, skull fractures, blood vessel damage, seizures and other neurological brain diseases. Doctors use this procedure to remove brain tumors as well. This highly invasive medical procedure results in increased risk of multiple side effects, most of which disappear after therapy.

Before Surgery

In order to assess a patient's health, doctors provide full medical examinations before performing brain surgery. Tell doctors of any medications, supplements, vitamins or herbs you are taking because they can cause side effects. Medicines such as aspirin, warfarin and some heart medications decrease the ability of blood to clot after surgery. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Doctors may tell you to wash your hair with special shampoo the night before surgery. Doctors ask you to stop eating or drinking 8 to 12 hours before surgery.


Surgeons need precision and concentration to perform brain surgery. The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes this procedure. The scalp is shaved, cleaned and prepared for surgery. Surgeons make an incision behind the hair line and in front of the ears, depending on where in the brain the condition is located. The scalp is pulled back and surgeons make a hole in the skull to remove a piece of the skull. They stem blood flow in the injured brain and remove blood clots, tumors or other abnormalities. Brain surgeons remove blood and fluid from the brain that cause pressure or infections. Surgeons use special microscopes, make small holes and insert small lights and cameras to do procedures. Advanced technologies have decreased the risks of negative side effects.

Neurological Problems

Possible side effects of brain surgery are various neurological problems because of the area of the brain touched. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, these conditions affect speech, memory, balance, vision, coordination and muscle strength. Other neurological problems include seizures. These side effects eventually disappear or they may cause lifelong problems. Physical and cognitive therapy re-trains the brain and reduces these conditions.

Wounds and Hemorrhaging

Side effects after brain surgery typically occur during the healing process. Patients suffer from brain, wound and skull infections at the incision area, and they may have brain swelling or hemorrhaging and blood clot development. Blood clots on the brain can lead to strokes and swelling can lead to comas. Medications reduce brain swelling and blood clot development. Antibiotics treat infections at the incision site.

After Surgery

Patients stay in the hospital between three and seven days after brain surgery for monitoring. This measure reduces the chance of developing life-threatening side effects. Patients stay in the intensive care unit, and doctors and nurses check brain function. These healthcare professionals ask simple questions, shine lights in patients’ eyes and ask them to do simple tasks. Oxygen may be required for a few days. Doctors elevate patients’ heads to reduce racial swelling and provide medication for pain. Rehabilitation starts in the hospital and continues upon release.

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