Awake brain surgery, also called awake craniotomy, is a type of procedure performed on the brain while you are awake and alert. Awake brain surgery is used to treat some brain (neurological) conditions, including some brain tumors or epileptic seizures.

If your tumor or the area of your brain where your seizures occur (epileptic focus) is near the parts of your brain that control vision, movement or speech, you may need to be awake during surgery. Your surgeon may ask you questions and monitor the activity in your brain as you respond.

Your responses help your surgeon to ensure that he or she treats the correct area of your brain needing surgery. The procedure also lowers the risk of damage to functional areas of your brain that could affect your vision, movement or speech.

Mayo Clinic's approach

Sept. 27, 2016
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  3. Brydges G, et al. Awake craniotomy: A practice overview. American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. 2012;80:61.
  4. Brain mapping. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/surgery/pre-surgery-tests/brain-mapping. Accessed Aug. 11, 2016.
  5. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Surgical treatment for seizures. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2004.
  6. Surgery for adult brain and spinal cord tumors. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/braincnstumorsinadults/detailedguide/brain-and-spinal-cord-tumors-in-adults-treating-surgery. Accessed Aug. 8, 2016.
  7. Parney IF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 22, 2016.
  8. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Patient education about your craniotomy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2005.