This animation illustrates the use of a traditional craniotomy for the removal of a tumor near the pituitary gland. First, a long incision is made in the scalp behind the hairline. The skin is then lifted off of the skull and folded down to allow surgeons to open the skull.
Next, a large piece of bone is removed from the skull. Because the tumor is located deep under the brain, the surgeon must lift the brain out of the way in order to access the tumor.
After the area is lit by a microscope, surgical tools are inserted to cut through the tumor capsule. In this example, bits of tumor are removed with suction and micro-scissors, until the entire tumor is gone. Because of the tumor’s deep location, the area can be difficult for surgeons to visualize, and can require working around critical nerves.
Once the tumor is removed, the retractor is withdrawn, allowing the brain to return to its original position. The piece of skull is put back in place. Then, the skin is replaced and the scalp is stitched.