Treatment Duration

3 hours


5 hours

Treatment Cost

Rs 2,00,000


Rs 4,50,000

Craniotomy: A Comprehensive Guide to Brain Surgery

A craniotomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a portion of the skull, known as a bone flap, to access the brain. This procedure is often performed to treat a wide range of neurological conditions, including brain tumors, aneurysms, traumatic brain injuries, and vascular abnormalities. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of craniotomy, including who may need it, how it is performed, what to expect from the surgery, its cost in top Indian hospitals, potential risks of not getting it, and the numerous benefits associated with this treatment.

What is Craniotomy?

A craniotomy is a surgical procedure that allows neurosurgeons to access the brain by temporarily removing a section of the skull. The term "craniotomy" is derived from two words: "cranium," which refers to the skull, and "otomy," which means to cut. During the procedure, a bone flap is carefully removed and later replaced to provide access to the brain. This approach allows surgeons to treat a variety of brain conditions by providing direct access to the affected area.

Who Needs a Craniotomy?

1. Brain Tumors:

One of the most common reasons for a craniotomy is the removal of brain tumors. This procedure allows surgeons to access and excise tumors, both benign and malignant, from the brain tissue.

2. Aneurysms:

Patients with cerebral aneurysms may require a craniotomy. Surgeons can access and repair these weakened blood vessel areas to prevent life-threatening ruptures.

3. Traumatic Brain Injuries:

In cases of severe traumatic brain injuries, a craniotomy may be necessary to reduce pressure on the brain, remove damaged tissue, and repair fractures in the skull.

4. Vascular Abnormalities:

Conditions such as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and cavernous angiomas may necessitate a craniotomy to remove or repair abnormal blood vessels in the brain.

5. Epilepsy Treatment:

In some cases of drug-resistant epilepsy, a craniotomy may be performed to remove or disconnect the part of the brain responsible for seizures.

How is a Craniotomy Performed?

The procedure typically follows these general steps:

1. Anesthesia:

Before the surgery, the patient is placed under general anesthesia to ensure they are unconscious and pain-free throughout the procedure.

2. Incision:

A scalp incision is made, usually in a location that can be easily hidden by hair. The size and location of the incision depend on the specific condition being treated.

3. Removal of Bone Flap:

A section of the skull, called the bone flap, is carefully removed using specialized tools. This bone flap is temporarily set aside and will be replaced at the end of the surgery.

4. Brain Access:

With the bone flap removed, the neurosurgeon gains access to the brain. Specialized instruments and imaging guidance are used to locate and treat the affected area.

5. Treatment:

Depending on the condition being addressed, various procedures may be performed, such as tumor removal, aneurysm clipping, or blood vessel repair.

6. Bone Flap Replacement:

After the necessary treatment is completed, the bone flap is meticulously put back in place and secured with small titanium plates and screws.

7. Closure:

The scalp incision is closed with stitches or staples, and a sterile bandage is applied.

What to Expect From a Craniotomy Surgery

Patients undergoing a craniotomy can expect the following:

1. Hospital Stay:

Most patients will spend several days in the hospital for observation and recovery. The length of stay depends on the complexity of the procedure and the patient's condition.

2. Recovery Period:

Recovery time varies, but it typically takes several weeks to months to fully recover from a craniotomy. During this time, patients may experience fatigue, headaches, and mild discomfort.

3. Rehabilitation:

Depending on the reason for the surgery, some patients may require rehabilitation to regain lost motor or cognitive functions.

4. Follow-Up Care:

Regular follow-up appointments with the neurosurgeon are essential to monitor progress and address any complications or concerns.

5. Scar Management:

Patients may be left with a scar from the scalp incision. Scar management techniques can help minimize its appearance.

Cost of Craniotomy in Top Indian Hospitals

The cost of a craniotomy in India varies widely depending on factors such as the hospital's location, the surgeon's experience, the complexity of the procedure, and the type of condition being treated. On average, a craniotomy in India can range from INR 1,50,000 to INR 5,00,000 or more. It's crucial to consult with hospitals and surgeons to get accurate cost estimates tailored to your specific case.

Risks of Not Getting a Craniotomy

Choosing not to undergo a craniotomy when medically advised can have serious consequences. The potential risks include:

1. Disease Progression: For conditions like brain tumors, delaying surgery can allow the disease to progress, potentially making it more difficult to treat successfully.

2. Increased Complications: Certain conditions, such as aneurysms or vascular abnormalities, may become more complex and pose a greater risk of rupture or hemorrhage if left untreated.

3. Neurological Deficits: Traumatic brain injuries that go untreated can lead to permanent neurological deficits, including cognitive impairment, motor dysfunction, or even paralysis.

4. Life-Threatening Situations: In cases of severe brain conditions, such as hemorrhages or large tumors, not getting a craniotomy can result in life-threatening situations.

5. Reduced Quality of Life: Unaddressed neurological conditions can significantly reduce a patient's quality of life, leading to chronic pain, disability, and emotional distress.

Benefits of Craniotomy

1. Disease Management: Craniotomy provides a direct and effective method of treating a wide range of neurological conditions, allowing for disease management and potentially cure.

2. Improved Quality of Life: For many patients, successful craniotomy procedures lead to improved cognitive function, relief from symptoms, and a better quality of life.

3. Prevention of Complications: Addressing conditions like aneurysms and vascular abnormalities through craniotomy can prevent life-threatening complications.

4. Customized Treatment: Craniotomy allows surgeons to tailor treatment to each patient's unique condition, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

5. Potential for Cure: In cases of benign tumors or vascular abnormalities, craniotomy can offer the potential for a complete cure, allowing patients to lead normal, healthy lives.


In conclusion, a craniotomy is a surgical procedure that offers hope and healing for individuals with various neurological conditions. While it involves risks and a period of recovery, the potential benefits, including improved quality of life and the possibility of a cure, make it a valuable treatment option. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your specific needs and options.


Craniotomies are generally safe when performed by experienced neurosurgeons. However, like any surgery, there are risks involved, and these should be discussed with your healthcare team.

Recovery time varies but typically ranges from several weeks to months. It depends on the individual, the specific condition treated, and the extent of the surgery.

Yes, there will be a scar from the scalp incision. Techniques such as plastic surgery closure and scar management can help minimize its appearance.

In some cases, minimally invasive procedures or radiation therapy may be considered as alternatives to traditional craniotomy. Consult with your neurosurgeon to determine the best approach for your condition.

During the consultation, the neurosurgeon will review your medical history, perform a physical examination, and discuss your symptoms. They will also explain the recommended treatment plan, including the possibility of a craniotomy.

It depends on your specific case and the type of activities you engage in. Your neurosurgeon will provide guidance on when it's safe to resume various activities.

Long-term effects vary depending on the individual and the reason for the surgery. Some patients experience lasting neurological deficits, while others fully recover.

It depends on the underlying condition. Some patients may require additional treatments or surgeries for ongoing management or to address complications.

Yes, craniotomies can be performed on children, but the approach and considerations may differ from those for adults. Pediatric neurosurgeons specialize in treating children.

Your healthcare team will provide you with specific instructions for preparation, which may include fasting before surgery, discontinuing certain medications, and arranging transportation and post-surgery care.

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