Craniotomy is the technical term for brain surgery, the type where they open up your skull and dive right in. They could do a more modest exploration, called a biopsy, where they make a little hole and just take a sample, which can help diagnose and stage the tumour. But I said why bother, just take him by the hair and hoik him right out in one go. Nigel seemed to like my attitude and has gone away to sharpen his saws.
What he will do is cut out an area of bone from my skull. This gives an opening so that he can operate on the brain itself. After removing the brain tumour, he puts the area of bone (called a flap) back and stitches the scalp in place over it. I am told that in most cases, your hair will hide the operation scars. they try to only remove as much hair as is absolutely essential so after the op I can always have a ‘comb over’.
Having got in there, Nigel plans to remove as much of the tumour as possible, and uses a microscope to tease out the abnormal cells from the normal ones. By keeping me awake he is able to test the effects of his probing on my brain function. How he does this is a bit of a mystery to me; will he ask me for answers to crossword clues, or riddles, or ask me to tell him jokes to make sure he doesn’t excise my sense of humour? I will have to let you know at some later date.
I am told it is not always possible to remove the whole tumour. If the surgeon cannot remove the whole tumour, he will remove as much as he can (called debulking) and try to zap the rest with radiotherapy or chemo. I have told Nigel to just go for it, I can probably do without a lot the useless information stored in my brain any how.
I have been given a helpful leaflet explaining my surgery. It explains that I may have a bit of a headache afterwards. I don’t know why, but everyone I have told that to finds it hilariously funny.
For my first-hand experiences of awake surgery, go to my blog entry: Home Sweet Home. (And amazingly, I didn’t even have a headache!)