"There is nothing quite like the fear of the unknown.
As a patient facing brain surgery, this was the scariest of all."
The concept of a Brain problem and particularly BRAIN SURGERY
can be, for most people, quite alarming if not
terrifying. So much of our very being, our personalities
our intellect, instincts, temperament, capacity for language
and spatial relationships, memories, dreams is carefully
encoded within the cellular structure of our "grey matter".
The prospect of any risk to alter Brain tissue in some way
involves the risk of changing who we are to a greater or lesser
In the event that you have a good medical reason to undergo Brain
surgery, it is essential to trust the professional
capabilities of your Neurosurgeon. Select one
carefully. Get recommendations from physicians and/or
nurses whom you know and trust. Interviewing several Neurosurgeons
and asking questions can be helpful. The more you trust your
physician and the more you know what to expect, the more relaxed
you can be about the surgical process. Get as much education about
your condition as you can. Being informed and feeling confident
that you have placed yourself in good hands can benefit your
The surgeons and staff at Neurosurgical Consultants are
sensitive to the difficulties involved in finding the "best doctor"
for your problem and have prepared some tips on
How to Choose a Neurosurgeon.
There are substantial reasons for anyone facing the prospect of
Brain surgery to recognize that even in the face of these very
serious (potentially life-threatening) problems, that modern
accurate Neuroimaging methods coupled with advanced Neurosurgical
techniques and other innovative treatments (such as advanced
Neuro-oncology and Stereotactic Focused Beam Radiosurgery) have
made the prognosis and likelihood for a favorable outcome much
better than ever before.
There are disease processes which, if left untreated, can
threaten the Brain, its ability to function and life itself. These
- Mass Lesions such as
or Brain Abscess that exert undue pressure on the
Brain. Brain Tumors are abnormal growths of
Brain tissue which can be either Benign (non-cancerous)
or Malignant (cancer). Based on size and/or location
either can cause serious progressive neurological damage
and/or death. There are many different kinds of
Benign Brain Tumors,
Pituitary Gland Tumors,
and Neurofibroma, to name only a few.
Malignant Brain Tumors
(Astrocytoma, Glioma, Ependymoma, Oligodendroglioma,
Mixed Glioma, Anaplastic Astrocytoma and Glioblastoma
Multiforme) can originate from the different types of
Brain cells (Astrocytes, Oligodendrogliocytes, Ependymal
Cells or Neurons) or from a cancerous disease from
another part of the body (Metastatic Tumor). When a
cancer spreads from another part of the body to the Brain
or any other part of the body, it is referred to as
Symptoms of a Brain tumor (or any other "Mass Lesion")
The most effective method to treat most Brain Tumors
involves some form of surgical removal since many can be
entirely cured. This is not necessarily the case
for all Brain tumors. Some tumor types require treatment
with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy with or
without a Brain operation. However, if a Brain
tumor (and/or the associated Brain swelling which occurs
consequent to the presence of the Brain tumor) becomes so
large that the Brain tissue begins to push against the bony
confinement of the Skull, the situation becomes critical.
This condition, known as Increased Intracranial Pressure
(^ICP), usually requires immediate treatment.
Hospitalization and stabilization of the intracranial
pressure becomes an urgent necessity. Oftentimes
this can be effectively accomplished with high dose
intravenous steroid treatment and/or a
temporary diversion of intracranial fluid
(either with a "Shunt" or "Ventriculostomy"). The
IMPERATIVE at this point is to improve the condition of the
Brain since the results from any surgery are influenced by
the general condition of the Brain at the time of
operation. At some point surgery will be done to remove
or reduce the tumor and alleviate the danger. If left
untreated, coma can result.
- Headache upon arising in the morning or during the night
- Dull, persistent headache
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Visual problems (blurring/double vision/impaired peripheral vision)
- Physical weakness
- Epilepsy (seizures)
- New onset of Neurological Deficits (Speech disorder, Dysequilibrium, Clumsiness)
Intracranial Cerebrovascular abnormalities
such as Aneurysms,
and Vein of Galen Aneurysm.
Patients who experience a hemorrhage inside the Brain
(Intracerebral Hemorrhage - ICH) as happens in
relationship to severe hypertension (Hypertensive
Intra-cerebral Hemorrhage) or due some other medical
condition or medication (Leukemia; Anticoagulation therapy,
etc) may also require Neurosurgical intervention.
Intracranial Arachnoid Cysts
among other problems.
Medically Refractory Epilepsy where seizures
are a major problem that will not respond to aggressive
Pain & Quality of Life Issues. Brain surgery is
helpful for conditions which interfere with the quality
of life such as
(when they cause medically refractory, excruciating pain) or
(uncontrollable muscle contractions of one side of the
Trauma. Head and Brain trauma account for a
large proportion of patients undergoing a Neurosurgical
This website and the information contained herein are
designed to, hopefully, educate those who seek relevant information
in as complete, understandable and appropriate manner as possible.
The conditions mentioned above are discussed in detail in the
sections that follow. Please consider taking time to review our
comprehensive MONOGRAPHS on the various subjects and disease states
that are found in our DOWNLOADS & INFORMATION LIBRARY.
The following information, listed at WebMD.com, may also be useful:
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This page last edited on 2/19