Discharge Instructions for Craniotomy

You had a craniotomy, which is the surgical opening of the skull. Your healthcare provider needed to do this to perform brain surgery. Recovery after a craniotomy varies, depending on why the procedure was done. The guidelines provided here are for general care. Ask your healthcare provider to provide additional information based on your specific condition.

Home care

Do’s and don’ts include: 

  • Increase your activity slowly.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Don’t lift anything until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed.

  • Shower as necessary, but keep your incision dry. You may wash your hair with mild soap after your stitches or staples have been removed.

  • Don’t apply creams, lotions, or other ointments to your incision. Keeping the incision clean and dry will help it to heal quickly. Most stitches or staples in the scalp are removed in 7 to 10 days.

  • Do not drink alcohol.

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.

  • Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen (or similar medicines) unless your healthcare provider says it’s OK. 


Make a follow-up appointment.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Swelling on the face or scalp

  • Incision that becomes red and hot or drainage from incision

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or chills

  • Confusion, memory loss, trouble speaking, or hallucinations

  • Fainting or “blacking out”

  • Double or blurred vision; partial or total loss of vision

  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your face, arms, hands, legs, or feet

  • Stiffness in your neck

  • Severe sensitivity to light (photophobia) or severe headache

  • Seizure

  • Trouble controlling your bowels or bladder

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fluid draining from the nose or ear



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