Awake brain surgery

Awake brain surgery also called an awake craniotomy.

Awake craniotomy simply means a patient is awake and alert when the brain is being operated on. It is often the preferred option when treating brain tumors in functionally important areas of the brain or in patients with epilepsy.

Allowing the patient to stay awake lets the doctors test regions of the brain (cortical mapping)before they are incised or removed and also to test the patient’s function continuously throughout the operation.

Cortical mapping involves stimulating the brain's surface with a tiny electrical probe. If a motor region of the brain is stimulated, it may cause twitching of a limb or face; a sensory area will cause a tingling feeling; the speech areas will prevent the patient from speaking very briefly. By mapping out the important regions of the brain first, doctors can aim to avoid and protect them during the operation.