Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery


Now, that’s already a lot to take in. Having any type of medical procedure can be extremely stressful, let alone a procedure that happens on your noggin! You are probably wondering how procedures on the brain usually work, and if there are multiple methods to accomplish the same task. Thanks to modern medical advancements, brain surgeries are safer than ever before.

In this article, we’ll cover a little bit of history involving brain surgery before discussing a recent advancement in the medical field: keyhole surgery. We’ll discuss how this new minimally invasive procedure is performed as well as its benefits and drawbacks.

Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery


Humans have been performing brain operations since the Neolithic period, which is otherwise referred to as the late stone age. Archaeologists have even found remains in France that indicate successful brain operations!

However, just because the practice existed doesn’t mean that it was safe. At the turn of the twentieth century, the mortality rate regarding brain operations was at fifty percent. Most commonly, a patient would either bleed out on the operating table or die later from an infection due to the unhygienic practices still taking place.

Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery
Harvey Cushing, born in 1869, was one of the first physicians to fully focus on the art of neurosurgery. In 1895 he and his classmate Ernest Codman introduced a revolutionary method of monitoring a patient’s temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure during surgery. This singular breakthrough drastically cut the amount of ether-related deaths that occurred at Massachusett General Hospital.

During his career, he successfully removed 2,000 tumors while maintaining a mortality rate of no more than twelve percent. His meticulous tactics allowed him the ability to expose the brain with a minimal amount of trauma. Due to this, Cushing has remained a historic physician in the medical field.


Basic Craniotomy

A craniotomy is a procedure in which a surgeon removes a section of the skull to expose the brain. This gives the doctor access to the section of the brain that needs treatment.

Keyhole Surgery

Keyhole surgery is an endoscopic procedure that can be utilized for multiple parts of the body. This recent advancement in surgery allows doctors to perform operations through a small incision that is about the size of a keyhole, hence the given name. Brain surgeries performed using the minimally invasive method removes the need to expose the brain, leading to safer surgery and faster recovery.


During the procedure, doctors view the brain and surrounding tissues by inserting a thin tube containing a camera into a small hole in the skull. Depending on the location of the tumor, this small hole could be made behind your ear, above your eyebrow, or even in your nose!

The most common location is through the nose. Utilizing the small camera, doctors proceed to operate on the tumor using small surgical instruments.

Risk and Benefits of Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery


As stated previously, minimally invasive surgeries are the future of medicine. Not only do they put the patients at the least amount of risk, but they also cut down the recovery time. With most craniotomies, the patient is placed in the ICU immediately after surgery. No matter how skilled the doctors are, it is a major surgery that involves exposing the most fragile part of our anatomy.

Patients that receive a minimally invasive brain procedure rarely end up in ICU and can go home within two to three days. Due to the size of the incision, keyhole surgeries have a very low rate of infection. The incision also reduces the possibility of cosmetic damage that occurs in craniotomies.

However, this new procedure has a steep learning curve. Keep in mind that, even though this method is minimally invasive, it can still have complications.

Keyhole surgery requires a doctor to perform the procedure using the camera as their eyes, and they must use smaller instruments than they’re used to.

Amateurs will certainly not be performing these procedures on living beings, but finding someone well educated on the method can be daunting.


A craniotomy is a major procedure that involves removing a piece of bone to expose the brain. Though it has a lower mortality rate than ever before, it can still have major complications and setbacks.

Recovery can be painful and lengthy for those who undergo the operation. The emotional stress that a patient experiences can also be high due to the negative portrayal of brain surgeries within tv shows and movies.

This stress can lead to the patient having a weakened immune system, which can have an overwhelmingly negative effect on their recovery. The minimally invasive surgery that is known as keyhole surgery reduces the amount of pain that a patient goes through, as well as the amount of time that it takes them to recover.

Keyhole surgeries also have a reduced risk of infections, and commonly have short recovery times. Though there can be some setbacks involving the talent necessary to perform these advanced procedures, the keyhole method is still a very relevant procedure in modern medicine.


The thought of brain surgery often brings up images of split skulls and exposed brains. Since the 1900s, neurosurgery has been a morbid practice that commonly comes with a high mortality rate. Thanks to advancements in the medical field, those high mortality rates have dropped substantially.

Though they were once considered major surgery, there is now a new procedure being utilized to resolve issues within the brain. Keyhole surgeries are minimally invasive, require little to no recovery time, lower the chances of infection, and lowers the amount of emotional stress that patients experience.

These benefits are just a glimpse of just how far we’ve come with surgery. The next time you find yourself facing the prospect of another surgery, ask your doctor if the keyhole method is right for you!

If you or anyone you know is suffering from brain injury or requires brain surgery, consult our expert neurosurgeon today. Call us at (469) 545-9983 to book an appointment.

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