Complications Following Brain Surgery


Authored by Ceetee Sheckels in Health 
Published on 12-19-2009

While brain surgery can be a lifesaving procedure, there can be complications following brain surgery which range from difficult to life threatening. Some of the potential complications depend upon the specific part of the brain where the surgery occurs. Others are relevant to the condition which the surgery is intended to correct.

Infection is a risk in any type of surgery. Brain surgery is no exception. It can be even more hazardous due to the delicate tissue involved. If an infection occurs after brain surgery, immediate treatment with antibiotics is necessary. Likewise, fluid accumulation, swelling, and bleeding within the brain are life threatening complications which must be treated immediately. In some cases, a second surgical procedure is necessary to correct these problems.

Depending upon the particular nature of the surgery, a patient may experience cognitive difficulties following surgery. In these instances, it is generally a matter of the location of the procedure causing damage to the area of the brain which affects cognitive functions. These problems can range from memory loss to impaired mental functioning to the lack of basic learning recall. While loss or impairment of functioning can be permanent, many people who have this complication can be helped to some degree through rehabilitative therapy.

As the brain is a very delicate organ, complications from surgery can also include seizures or stroke. A person may also experience a reaction to the anesthesia that is used for the surgery. At the most serious end of the spectrum, complications may be coma or death. A minor, yet more common, result of brain surgery are recurring headaches. While headaches, which can be severe, can occur after any brain surgery, they can especially be a problem when the surgery was for the purpose of removing a tumor. The reason for this is that even a benign tumor takes up space in the brain, and headaches occur when the brain begins to adjust to its absence. Although post-operative headaches usually subside with time, some people may experience them for the rest of their lives.

When a patient needs to have brain surgery, his physician will take every measure to keep the risks as low as possible. If surgery is scheduled, rather than done as an emergency following a traumatic injury, the risks can be reduced. First, your physician must do a complete physical evaluation to be sure that you are a good candidate for surgery. In some cases, there may be other options if surgery is not advisable. Second, your risks can be reduced if you follow your doctor’s advice in preparing for surgery. This can include eliminating alcohol, certain medications, and other factors. If you are using aspirin, which is a natural blood-thinner, or prescription medications which affect the blood’s ability to clot, your physician will tell you what you should do instead of using these products. If there are any other pre-surgical preparations specific to your situation, your doctor will inform you well in advance. While brain surgery is serious, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of complications.


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