What is a Craniotomy?


"meningioma cancer blog" "the ugly c word" "brain cancer" "brain surgery" "what is a craniotomy" "meningioma surgery" "craniotomy recovery"

I wrote a post about what to expect after brain surgery, but just in case you’re wondering exactly what a craniotomy is, this post is for you.


Okay, so you have a meningioma, now, how do you get that sucker out? My tumor was pretty large and causing symptoms, so the general consensus for me was, you guessed it – a craniotomy. Since I’m clearly not a doctor, I’m going to defer to the smart people over at Johns Hopkins for the actual medical explanation of a craniotomy.


What I can offer you, is what a craniotomy was like for me (please keep in mind that this is specific to my case based on my tumor’s location, size, etc.). This is how my surgery was explained to me post-op, which I think might be really helpful:


My surgeon cut an incision in my scalp from the top of my forehead (right behind my hairline), to all the way down behind my ear. He cut out a piece of my skull using a special saw, which allowed him access to my brain. He also removed my cheekbone so he could access all of the tumor. My surgeon then removed the actual tumor, making sure not to leave any cells behind, which I'm sure is a pretty involved process. I think the whole thing took about 4 hours.


The stitches were dissolvable and I woke up from surgery with a head wrap, minimal swelling, and a titanium plate & screws inside my head holding it all together – which by the way, don’t set off metal detectors and are MRI safe. Fun stuff, right? My blog post on Things You Can Expect After Brain Surgery really dives into all the post-op stuff, but hopefully this gives you a general idea of what my surgery involved.


I'd like to conclude by giving some much deserved recognition to my surgeon, Dr. Ricardo Komotar, who managed to cut my head open 8"- 9” and barely leave a mark, successfully remove my entire tumor and put up with alllll my craziness. Dr. Ricardo Komotar, in the words of Reinaldo's uncle Nelson, a respected surgeon and urologist,


You have the hands of God.


Finding the right surgeon for a surgery like this is sooooo important! A good surgeon might mean the difference between a full resection or being left with some remaining tumor (I'll discuss this further in another post). I cannot rave enough about Dr. Komotar and his surgical skills. Below you can see my scar right after my surgery and then 9 months later!