Post-Craniotomy Care: What You Need to Know

Maintain a clean incision.

With sutures or surgical staples, wounds made during a craniotomy are routinely stitched shut. Incision care recommendations should be followed in the letter. For example, some doctors prefer that patients keep their incisions dry following surgery, while others allow patients to gently wash their hair (and the incision) right after the procedure. You should only use ointments or lotions on the incision if recommended to do so by your doctor. Bandanna or a loose cap should be worn when outside to protect the incision.

Signs of infection or complications should be monitored.

An incision may be infected if it turns red and feels warm to the touch. In addition, after the bandage has been removed, fluid leaking or seeping may suggest a potential problem, such as increased brain pressure or a leak of cerebrospinal fluid. Any anomalies must be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities immediately.

Control the pain.

Narcotic pain medication is prescribed to most patients who leave the clinic. Be sure to let your doctor know if the pain medication isn’t doing its job or if the patient is still in pain after the prescription has run out. Chronic or uncontrollable pain is a warning sign that something is wrong.

Slowly get back into your routine.

When a loved one has undergone surgery, friends and family members may want to pamper them, but it’s ideal if they can accomplish as much as possible on their own. Physical and occupational therapy can be just as important as simple everyday tasks like getting dressed, grooming, and meal preparation, according to Michael O’Dell of the Rehabilitation Medicine Department at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

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