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Common Types of Brain Surgery

There’s a myriad of types of brain surgeries used to diagnose and treat a range of brain diseases and infections.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of brain surgery and what they’re used to treat:

Brain Biopsy

A surgical biopsy is a simple procedure used to diagnose a number of conditions. The two most common forms of brain biopsies are a needle biopsy and an open biopsy.

During needle biopsies, a neurosurgeon drills a small hole into the skull while a patient is under anesthesia.

A piece of tissue is then removed with a large needle, usually a piece of a brain tumor.

The other procedure, an open biopsy, is a far more invasive operation.

A neurosurgeon removes a piece of the skull so that a brain tumor can be more easily accessed and potentially removed.

Reasons for a Brain Biopsy

These surgical biopsies are used to diagnose a number of brain diseases. The most common reason for brain biopsies is typically done to identify and diagnose brain cancers.

In addition, these procedures can diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or a number of brain infections.


Also called “ventric,” a ventriculostomy is a catheter-type device used to drain excess fluid from the brain.

This procedure does not require general anesthesia and can be completed in about an hour.

The ventric will stay in place as long as the neurosurgeon deems it necessary. The removal process only takes about a minute.

Reasons for Ventriculostomy

A ventric is used most often after brain surgery or a major brain injury.

As brain fluid gathers and fills up in the brain, extreme pressure can build and slow blood flow, cutting off essential nutrients to the organ.

A ventric drains this excess fluid to keep the brain healthy after major physical trauma.


During a craniotomy, a neurosurgeon makes an incision in the skull and creates a hole, known as a bone flap.

This exposes the part of the brain that needs to be treated. After the procedure, the bone flap can be held in place with plates or wires.

In the case of brain tumors or swelling, it can be left open. When a bone flap is left open, this is called a craniectomy.

Reasons for Craniotomy

There a multitude of purposes for a craniotomy. A neurosurgeon may want to clip off a brain aneurysm, drain fluid from a brain infection, or to remove large brain tumors.


A neuroendoscopy a minimally invasive procedure in which the neurosurgeon removes a brain tumor through small holes in the skull, mouth or nose.

The benefits of this procedure over traditional surgical methods is that there’s less cutting involved, shortening both recovery time and pain intensity.

A neuroendoscopy is completed with an endoscope, a small tool with an attached camera that allows the surgeon to navigate through the body and locate the tumor.

Reasons for a Neuroendoscopy

This procedure is done to remove smaller brain tumors and certain types of cysts. In addition, a brain biopsy can be completed during a neuroendoscopy.

Brain surgery in Portland OR

Dr. Todd Kuether at Kuether Brain and Spine is one of the most knowledgeable and professional neurosurgeons in the greater Portland area.