Craniectomy is a procedure in which part of the skull is removed to allow a swelling brain room to expand without being squeezed. It is performed on victims of traumatic brain injury and stroke.


The neurosurgeon marks a large square flap on the scalp that covers the surgical area . The surgeon then makes an incision into the skin as far as the thin membrane covering the skull bone. Because the scalp is well supplied with blood, the surgeon will have to seal many small arteries.

The surgeon then folds back a skin flap to expose the bone. Using a high-speed drill (craniotome), the surgeon saws through the bone until the bone flap can be removed to expose the brain.

After the craniectomy procedure is completed, the piece of skull is not replaced and the surgeon sutures the membrane, muscle, and skin of the scalp.  The bone flap is frozen and stored in the bone fridge for replacement in the future.