Brain Surgery

What is a 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.

To learn about other types of brain surgery, select from the list on the right-hand side of the page.