Patient response to awake craniotomy - A summary overview

Monika Milian, Marcos Tatagiba, Guenther C. Feigl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Background: Awake craniotomy is a valuable procedure since it allows brain mapping and live monitoring of eloquent brain functions. The advantage of minimizing resource utilization is also emphasized by some physicians in North America. Data on how well an awake craniotomy is tolerated by patients and how much stress it creates is available from different studies, but this topic has not consequently been summarized in a review of the available literature. Therefore, it is the purpose of this review to shed more light on the still controversially discussed aspect of an awake craniotomy. Methods: We reviewed the available English literature published until December 2013 searching for studies that investigated patients' responses to awake craniotomies. Results: Twelve studies, published between 1998 and 2013, including 396 patients with awake surgery were identified. Eleven of these 12 studies set the focus on the perioperative time, one study focused on the later postoperative time. The vast majority of patients felt well prepared and overall satisfaction with the procedure was high. In the majority of studies up to 30 % of the patients recalled considerable pain and 10-14 % experienced strong anxiety during the procedure. The majority of patients reported that they would undergo an awake craniotomy again. A post traumatic stress disorder was present neither shortly nor years after surgery. However, a normal human response to such an exceptional situation can for instance be the delayed appearance of unintentional distressing recollections of the event despite the patients' satisfaction concerning the procedure. Conclusions: For selected patients, an awake craniotomy presents the best possible way to reduce the risk of surgery related neurological deficits. However, benefits and burdens of this type of procedure should be carefully considered when planning an awake craniotomy and the decision should serve the interests of the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1070
Number of pages8
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Awake craniotomy
  • Benefit
  • Brain tumor
  • Delayed reaction
  • Psychological burdens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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