There are several different types of brain tumor surgeries. In each, the patient is sedated and anesthetic is applied to the surgical site. Because the brain has no pain receptors, no anesthetic is applied to the actual brain tissue. At some point of the surgery, the patient may be awake and must respond to questions to ensure that no other brain regions were negatively affected. The most commonly performed are as follows:
- Biopsy: Surgically removing a sample of brain tissue
- Craniotomy: Removing a piece of the skull to gain access to the brain tissue needing to be removed and then replacing the skull fragment
- Debulking: Reducing the size of the tumor through surgical means if the tumor cannot be entirely removed. This is often done to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Resection (Complete removal): Surgically excising the tumor entirely
- Partial Removal: Removing only a portion of the tumor. Often done when the tumor is located in a surgically risky part of the brain
- Shunt: Rerouting excess fluids from the brain to another part of the body using some form of drainage
- Skull Base Surgery: A special type of surgery performed to remove a tumor located at the base of the skull
- Ommaya Reservoir: Surgically implanting a tube and container apparatus underneath the scalp to directly administer chemotherapy to the brain, remove excess cerebrospinal fluid to allow for detection of healthy cells, and to remove other unwanted fluid buildup without the need for invasive surgery.
- Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT): Small holes are drilled into the skull where targeted heat is administered to burn away unhealthy tissue. Is minimally invasive and is often used when tumors are difficult to access via more traditional means.