Decompressive craniectomy

Decompressive craniectomy

A decompressive craniectomy is a neurosurgical procedure in which a section of the skull, called a bone flap, is removed. In some cases of severe, traumatic brain injury, a decompressive craniectomy may be necessary to allow the brain to swell without being squeezed by the skull. 

Our approach

At the Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute, our physicians and neurosurgeons are on the leading edge of treatments for traumatic brain injuries. Surgical procedures, such as decompressive craniectomy, are utilized to relieve swelling of the brain - known as “cerebral edema” - due to severe brain injury, infection, brain tumors and/or stroke. 

Our multidisciplinary team includes fellowship trained neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, reconstructive surgeons, neuro-oncologists, neuroradiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physical therapists. Each member of our team is dedicated to providing high quality care to all our patients.

Risks and side effects

Risks of decompressive craniectomy include:

  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of mental functions
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Infection
  • Hydrocephalus

What to expect after treatment

The prognosis following a decompressive craniectomy will vary depending on the reason for the procedure. In some cases, patients may have disabilities that can vary in type and severity depending on the:

  • Severity of the injury
  • Location of the injury
  • Age and general health of the patient