Brain surgery

Decompressive craniectomy

A decompressive craniectomy is similar to a craniotomy. It is used to access a patient’s brain to perform another neurosurgical procedure if tests reveal the brain is affected by a medical condition.

The only difference between a craniotomy and a decompressive craniectomy is that a neurosurgeon doesn’t put the bone back afterwards.

A brain condition may occur because of:

  • a traumatic brain injury
  • stroke, blood clot
  • blood pooling inside your skull, a condition known as intracranial hematoma
  • artery blockage
  • excess fluid in the brain, a condition called cerebral edema

What does a decompressive craniectomy involve?

Once a neurosurgeon determines the condition and its location in the brain, they will perform a craniectomy by shaving a patient’s hair at the location that needs attention. Then they will make an incision.

The neurosurgeon will remove skin and tissue to reach the skull, then they’ll carefully drill and saw a part of the skull to access the affected area. Following this, they can perform the necessary procedure.