What Happens Post Brain Tumor Surgery?

Many patients wake up just after a few hours of their brain tumor surgery. But many a time, the surgeon can decide to make him/her asleep for a few days post surgery, to assist the patient recover soon. They inject sedatives to keep the patient asleep.

Gurneet Sawhney Created on 11th Oct, 21

The patient goes to the recovery room post-surgery. The nurses and an expert neurosurgeon will keep an eye on the patient closely while he/she is in the recovery room. Once it’s safe to do so, the patient will be moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) or the high dependency unit (HDU). Here is the list of episodes that happen immediately after the surgery for a brain or spinal cord tumor.


Waking Up Post Surgery:

Many patients wake up just after a few hours of their brain tumor surgery. But many a time, the surgeon can decide to make him/her asleep for a few days post-surgery, to assist the patient in recover soon. They inject sedatives to keep the patient asleep.


While the patient is asleep, he/she can be breathing through a machine known as the ventilator. This may be a little frightening for the people who come to visit the patient.


The patient is likely to feel drowsy and sleepy after they wake up. It is quite normal and it happens due to anaesthesia as well as painkillers. The patient, or their relatives, can also notice that the patient’s head or face has swollen. This swelling will go down after some time.


The Intensive Care Unit (ICU):

The patient may have to go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or the High Dependency Unit (HDU), after the recovery room. The patient then is shifted back to the ward within a day or so. How long the patient has to stay in the ICU or HDU is different for all. 


In the ICU or HDU, the patient gets quite close nursing care. This is mostly one to one (or two to one) nursing care. The nurses, as well as doctors, keep a very close eye on the patient’s improvement.


Checks & Observation:

The moment the patient wakes up, the doctor conducts certain kinds of checks for at least 15 minutes. The nurse or doctor does these checks called neurological observation (neurobs) to study how alert the patient is. 


These are the exact similar tests that are carried out before the operation. The nurse asks several questions to the patients and then flashes light into their eyes to check if the pupils respond or not. The patient has:

  • Sticky pads on the chest known as ECG leads to monitor the heart
  • A blood pressure cuff on the arm

A clip on the finger known as pulse oximetry to check the heart rate as well as oxygen levels


The Head:

When the patient’s wake up, they have a dressing over their wound and a bandage wrapped over their head. This is mostly left for approx 5 days. Stitches or surgical clips can mostly come out around 5 to 14 days post surgery. Some surgeons use stitches that little by little dissolve by themselves, so the patient doesn’t need to have them removed.


If the patient’s head was shaved at the time of the operation, it may be shocking when they first see themselves. The hair will grow again but the speed at which it grows can differ among people. The head can be itchy at first. Try to avoid scratching too close to the wound.

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