Surgical Treatment for Brain Injuries

Because suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and disabilities in this nation, life-saving emergency procedures are often necessary when someone suffers a TBI in a car accident, motorcycle crash, fall, or sports-related injury. After being taken to the emergency room, doctors will assess a patient to quickly learn the seriousness and extent of the brain injury.

Following diagnostic tests and evaluations, a patient will be identified as having suffered a mild, moderate, or severe brain injury. Although surgery isn’t typically required for mild brain injury patients, many people who suffer moderate to severe TBIs will need some type of surgery due to the swelling in their brains that can quickly become an emergency situation.

For those who have sustained excessive pressure in the brain or hematomas and large blood clots, surgery may happen immediately. In some cases, patients are monitored and surgery doesn’t occur for hours or days after head trauma.

Why Surgical Treatment?

Brain surgery can help treat and prevent further damage to the brain. Some of the reasons for brain surgery include:

  • Removing pressure in the brain
  • Removing damaged brain tissues
  • Removing or draining blood clots or bleeding blood vessels in the brain
  • Repairing skull fractures

Types of Surgical Treatment

When doctors feel brain surgery is the best course of action to repair brain damage and prevent any additional trauma, surgical treatment may include:

  • Craniotomy. With this type of surgical procedure, doctors will open up the skull by cutting a hole in it in order to access the brain. During surgery, the injury to the brain (e.g., large blood clots, bleeding vessels, or intracranial pressure) will be repaired and the skull will be closed back up with plates and screws.
  • Decompressive craniectomy. When the brain tissues are continuing to expand and swell and the pressure becomes life-threatening, a decompressive craniectomy is usually performed. With this type of surgery, a large section of skull bone is removed, giving the brain more room to expand. The portion of the bone is frozen and replaced (in another surgery called cranioplasty) once the swelling has been reduced and the patient is stabilized. This can take from one to three months.

Surgical treatment is often used in open head injuries in order to repair skull fractures and remove damaged brain tissues. While surgery isn’t always used in closed head injuries, it sometimes is the only way to stop the bleeding, reduce swelling, repair damaged brain tissues, and prevent any additional brain damage.

We hope you have found this article helpful—especially if you are considering your options or deciding if brain surgery is the right option for your loved one. Sometimes, it is the only life-saving option available. Please share this article on your favorite social media site. You never know who may need to read this useful information.