Brain Tumour Surgery: The Travails and the new optimism

Uploaded On : 14th August 2019

There is no trustworthy evidence regarding what causes brain tumors, but there are a few risk factors that have been substantiated through research. Children and young people who receive radiation around the head are susceptible to developing tumors in the brain once they grow up. Also, people with a certain kind of rare genetic condition like neurofibromatosis may develop a brain tumor though such cases are very few. Age is also an important factor as people aged over 65 years are diagnosed with brain tumors at quadruple times higher than children and younger people.

Types of Brain Tumours:

A primary brain tumor originates in the brain, and they may or may not be cancerous. Some tumors can be benign, which do not spread in the surrounding tissues and are not very malicious. However, that does not signify that they will not cause any harm over time. Sometimes these tumors can be severe and cause a threat to the life of the sufferer. The National Cancer Institute reports that approximately there were 23, 380 fresh cases of brain tumors in 2014.

Identifying the Symptoms of Brain Tumours:

The symptoms of the brain tumor are dependent on various factors such as the size, type as well as the exact location of the tumor. These symptoms are triggered when any tumor is pressed or clashed against a nerve or disturbs a part of the brain. Symptoms are also felt when any tumor particle blocks the fluid flowing around the brain or when there is a swelling in the brain owing to the build-up of fluid.

Common symptoms include headaches that get worse in the morning, nausea along with vomiting, an alteration in the speech, hearing and imbalances in walking and movement, mood swings, change in personality and ability to concentrate or remember things and seizures or convulsions.

Treatment for Brain Tumor:

Surgery is normally the most usual treatment for brain tumors, and the patient is given anesthesia, and the scalp is shaved before the surgery. Then, craniotomy is performed to open the skull, and the surgeon removes a bone piece out of the skull. Then the tumor is removed as much as possible. The bone is then restored back, and the incision on the scalp is closed. Sometimes surgery is not viable in case the tumor has developed in the brain stem or some other complex parts.

Neurosurgeons can surgically remove some tumors completely (called resection or complete removal). If the tumor is near sensitive areas of the brain, neurosurgeons will only be able to remove part of it (called partial removal). Even partial removals can relieve symptoms and facilitate or increase the effectiveness of other treatments.

The role of surgery in treating brain tumors

Surgery can provide:

The complete removal of some brain tumours

A sample to enable doctors to diagnosis the tumour and recommend the most appropriate treatment

Better quality of life:

Reduced symptoms and improved ability to function (e.g., to think, speak or see better)

Less pressure within the skull from the tumour

A longer life

 Newer Armamentarium in use during surgery

Intra operative Microscope integrated Tumour fluorescence guided surgery: Aids in reducing post-operative deficits by increasing precision of tumour excision

Use of intra operative micro doppler to localise major vessels encased in tumour

Intra operative ultrasound for real time navigation during brain tumour surgery

Liberal use of Ultrasonic aspirator helps in better brain handling by avoiding pushing and pulling of neural tissue.


Dr. Amit chakrabarty
Sr. Consultant – Neuro Surgery

RBH Department of Neurosciences

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