Treatments for the Brain

Brain tumor surgery for primary and metastatic tumors

There are several types of surgeries to treat or remove brain tumors, including biopsies and craniotomies. Patients and doctors together can determine which method is treatment is best for them.


A craniotomy is a surgical procedure in which a piece of the skull is removed so the surgeon may access the brain beneath. The cut-away portion, called the bone flap, may be small or large and is typically put back in place after surgery on the brain is finished the incision closed. A craniotomy may be required for the surgical treatment of a variety of neurological/brain disorders, including:

  • Cancer/tumor
  • Infection
  • Edema/swelling
  • Hematoma (blood clot)
  • Aneurysm (blood vessel rupture)
  • AVM (blood vessel disorder)
  • Skull fracture
  • Foreign object removal

In addition to providing access to the brain, a craniotomy also allows a surgeon to inspect the brain for abnormalities, perform a biopsy or relieve pressure inside the skull.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Radiotherapy for Tumors

Stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy are treatment options for some types of tumors. They use high-powered x-rays to target tumors and are considered radiation treatments rather than surgery.

Microvascular Decompression (MVD) of the Trigeminal Nerve for Trigeminal Neuralgia

MVD is a surgical procedure to relieve the pain and muscle twitching caused by compression of a nerve by an artery or vein. MVD involves surgically opening the skull and exposing the nerve at the base of the brainstem to insert a tiny sponge between the compressing vessel and the nerve. This sponge isolates the nerve from the pulsating effect and pressure of the blood vessel. MVD can be an appropriate treatment option for people who have not responded to medication, percutaneous or radiosurgery treatments. MVD does not successfully treat facial pain caused by multiple sclerosis.

Shunt surgery for hydrocephalus

This treatment to relieve excess fluid on the brain consists of inserting a flexible but study plastic tube system between the brain and abdomen. The system diverts the flow of excess fluid to other parts of the body where it can be absorbed as part of the normal circulatory process.

Skull base surgery

There are many treatment options available to treat disorders, particularly tumors, of the skull base.

Chiari malformation surgery

For patients with severe symptoms who do not respond to medicine, surgery to correct the structural defects affecting the spinal cord and halt the progression of damage to the central nervous system. Surgical options include

  • Decompression surgery to create more space for the cerebellum and relieve pressure on the spinal column.
  • The surgical removal of part of the arched, bony roof of the spinal canal to increase the size of the spinal canal and relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • The surgeon also may make an incision in the covering of the brain to examine the brain and spinal cord. Additional tissue may be added to the brain covering to create more space for the flow of CSF.

Endoscopic Pituitary Tumor Surgery

This is a surgical procedure to remove tumors of the pituitary gland. It uses a small, tubular instrument inserted through the nostril to target the tumor. The endoscope provides light and magnification, and surgeons use a video monitor to view images coming from the endoscope.

Treatments for Acoustic Neuroma

These tumors of the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain sometimes don’t require treatment because they are slow-growing. However, traditional surgery to remove the tumor, and stereotactic radiosurgery are also options. Stereotactic radiosurgery focuses high-powered x-rays on a small area. It is considered radiation rather than surgery.