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Craniotomy for Excision of a Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation


A craniotomy is surgery to open your skull and operate on your brain. This surgery is used to remove an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in your brain. You may need a craniotomy if your AVM causes your brain to bleed. You may also need a craniotomy if you have symptoms such as seizures, headaches, or speech problems.


Before your surgery:

  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • You may need to have blood tests. Your surgeon may also do a CT scan or an MRI. If you have a large AVM, you may need to have a procedure called embolization before your surgery.

The night before your surgery:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of your surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.


What will happen:

  • Anesthesia will be given to keep you asleep and free from pain during your surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision in your scalp. He or she will then remove a piece of your skull to see your brain and AVM.
  • Your surgeon will clip or tie the arteries to stop the blood flow to your AVM. A substance may be injected to block the arteries. This plugs up the arteries so blood cannot flow into your AVM. Your surgeon will then remove the cluster of abnormal blood vessels from your AVM. The vein that was attached to the AVM will be tied. Your skull bone will be put back in place. The incision will be closed with stitches and covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you will rest until you wake up. Healthcare providers will watch you closely for any problems. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you will be taken back to your hospital room. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. A healthcare provider may remove your bandages soon after surgery to check your wound.


  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have a fever.

Seek Care Immediately if

You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
  • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
  • Weakness in an arm or leg
  • Confusion or difficulty speaking
  • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss


You may get an infection. You may have headaches, eyesight problems, or seizures. Your brain and the layers of tissue that cover it may swell. You may need surgery again if some of the abnormal blood vessels were not removed. You may get a blood clot. Your AVM may also bleed heavily in your brain. If there is bleeding or a blood clot in your brain, you may have a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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