Surgery, known as a craniotomy, is the preferred treatment for most brain tumors, including gliomas. Surgery may be the only treatment needed for low-grade tumors. Your surgeon will surgically remove as much of your glioma tumor as possible (safely-performed maximal surgical resection) without risking damage to your nervous system. During this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your scalp and an opening in the skull to reach the brain before removing as much of the tumor as possible. Based on the location of your tumor, surgery may be performed with you completely asleep with or without monitoring of your crucial functions or with you “awake” to help ensuring that some of your critical functions are not damaged during surgery. Our team employs some of the most highly advanced and sophisticated technologies, some of which were invented here (such as intraoperative MRI) to monitor and image your critical functions during surgery.
If your tumor cannot be fully removed, this is referred to as debulking surgery. Even if surgery cannot cure your cancer, debulking surgery can relieve your symptoms, such as pain or pressure on your brain. Debulking surgery can also make your glioma easier to treat with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and/or other treatments.
Another surgical technology we may use to treat your tumor is LITT (laser interstitial thermal therapy).
Our surgical oncologists use the smallest microsurgical tools and evidence-based guidelines to minimize your hospital stay, recovery time and complications while improving outcomes and patient satisfaction.
As leaders in their fields, our surgeons have extensive expertise and perform a high number of these surgeries. Our surgeons’ success rates are among the best in the country, and we are here to help you.
Brigham and Women’s is home to the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite. The suite brings advanced imaging equipment into the operating room to offer patients the most precise and effective treatments. AMIGO allows our neurosurgeons to see the tumor so they can safely remove tissue. This resource, and our experience with treating patients using image guided neurosurgery, is unmatched in New England. Watch this short animation to see how advanced imaging equipment and surgical systems work together to treat patients.
If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled to visit the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation for preoperative information and tests. Learn more about planning for preoperative appointments, as well as contact information for the Weiner Center.
We recommend planning ahead for your surgery, including designating someone to bring you to and from your procedure. Your care team will provide you with specific instructions to best prepare for your surgery.
The day of surgery, you will be cared for in the operating room by our surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in glioma surgery. After surgery, you will recover in the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by our experienced surgical and nursing staff. The average patient receiving a craniotomy procedure will be in the hospital for a few days.
Recovery time after you leave the hospital varies from patient to patient and on the type of surgery you have. Your neurosurgeon will discuss this with you before surgery. You may feel tired or weak immediately post-surgery, and you will likely also have pain from the incision. Talk with your doctor about your options for pain relief. You will be advised to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for some time after your surgery. Those who work may need some time off after a craniotomy procedure.
If you have any questions about your surgery, talk to your health care team. They can help you know what to expect before, during and after your surgery. Learn more about your hospital stay and returning home.
Our researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a microdevice that can help test treatments in patients with gliomas. The device is the shape and size of a grain of rice and designed to be used during standard of care surgery. Once implanted into the tumor, the microdevice provides insight into the effects of drugs on glioma tumors. Learn more.
Our team has also pioneered several clinical trial options that stimulate your own immune system to reject the brain tumor, including the glioma. In one trial, your resected tumor is analyzed and a personalized vaccine is made from it that is then given to you help your body fight off the tumor. In other trials, your team injects genes or oncolytic viruses that help your immune system become activated against your tumor. Ask our team if you are eligible for any of these trials.
In another trial, we use a technology that was also invented at the Brigham (focused ultrasound) to increase the amount of chemotherapy drugs that can get into your tumor.
For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.