Neurosurgeons can surgically remove some tumors completely (called resection or complete removal). If the tumor is near sensitive areas of the brain, neurosurgeons will only be able to remove part of it (called partial removal). Even partial removals can relieve symptoms and facilitate or increase the effectiveness of other treatments.
A biopsy — a surgical procedure to remove a small sample of a brain tumor for examination under a microscope — is usually performed during surgery to remove the tumor. This enables doctors to confirm the diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate treatment. If the patient is not a surgical candidate, a separate biopsy may be done.
The role of surgery in treating brain tumors
Surgery can provide:
- The complete removal of some brain tumors
- A sample to enable doctors to diagnosis the tumor and recommend the most appropriate treatment
- Better quality of life:
Reduced symptoms and improved ability to function (e.g., to think, speak or see better)
Less pressure within the skull from the tumor
- A longer life
Neurosurgeons at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Brain Tumor Center perform surgery on hundreds of patients with brain tumors every year. To improve the results (outcomes) of brain surgery, they use state-of-the-art imaging and surgical techniques. Advanced imaging enables neurosurgeons to precisely plan and perform surgery, using the least invasive approach possible.
They also work closely with neuroanesthesiologists — doctors who specialize in using pain-blocking techniques or medications (anesthetics) during neurosurgery. This ensures that the patient will receive the most appropriate type of anesthesia for the specific brain tumor and optimal anesthesia care during the procedure.