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Awake Craniotomy

Awake craniotomy has proven to be one of the most effective and beneficial procedures in aiding epilepsy surgery and the safe, surgical removal of several forms of brain tumors.

The procedure helps identify the functionally important tissue of the brain, known as the eloquent cortex, to ensure the tissue isn’t damaged when a tumor or section of the brain responsible for seizures is removed during surgery. This greatly increases surgical safety and efficiency, and ultimately leads to improved outcomes, shorter recovery times and preservation of healthy brain tissue and function.

Awake Craniotomy Procedure

Patients undergoing awake craniotomy are sedated and then placed in a head stabilizer while the scalp and relevant portion of the skull is removed. A local anesthetic is then administered before the patient is brought back to consciousness to interact with his or her neurosurgeon.

The patient does not feel pain during the surgery because there are no nerve receptors in the brain.

Once fully conscious, the patient is asked a series of questions while different areas of the brain are electrically stimulated. Highly trained members of the neurosurgical care staff note any changes in speech or motor function during stimulation and interaction to determine what areas of the brain must remain unaffected by the surgery.

Part of a Bigger Picture

Awake craniotomy is just one procedure in the leading-edge suite of functional brain mapping techniques performed at Mischer Neuroscience Institute. 

The organization of each person’s brain and how it functions is unique. Each person’s brain controls motor function, sensation, memory and language differently, and thus, needs its own map. Functional brain mapping studies the structure, organization and function of the brain and spinal cord using highly sophisticated and specialized techniques. It can improve outcomes for patients affected by brain tumors and seizures who may require surgery.  Functional brain mapping gives invaluable insight to neurological care teams by:

  • Identifying areas of the brain that control movement, sensation, memory, speech and understanding of language.
  • Improving surgical efficiency through the precise location of damaged tissue or tumors in or around the eloquent cortex.
  • Reducing the risk of damaging healthy brain tissue or other complications during surgery.

The comprehensive and innovative approach to functional brain mapping at Mischer Neuroscience Institute also assists in determining the best possible course of treatment, assessing surgical options and optimizing outcomes.

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