You are here


Craniotomy: Surgical removal of part of the skull to expose the brain

A craniotomy is the most commonly performed surgery for brain tumor removal. It may also be done to remove a blood clot and control hemorrhage, inspect the brain, perform a biopsy, or relieve pressure inside the skull The surgeon marks a large square flap on the scalp that covers the surgical area with a felt tip pen. Following this mark, the surgeon makes an incision into the skin as far as the thin membrane covering the skull bone. Because the scalp is well supplied with blood, the surgeon will have to seal many small arteries. The surgeon then folds back a skin flap to expose the bone.  Using a high speed hand drill or an automatic craniotome, the surgeon makes a circle of holes in the skull, and pushes a soft metal guide under the bone from one hole to the next.   The surgeon saws through the bone until the bone flap can be removed to expose the brain. 

After the surgery for the underlying cause is completed, the piece of skull is replaced and secured with titanium plates and screws.  Finally, the surgeon sutures the membrane, muscle, and skin of the scalp.