Surgery for Metastatic Brain Tumors

An NYU Langone neurosurgeon may perform surgery to remove a brain metastasis if there is only one tumor and doctors can easily reach it. Our specialists have extensive experience in brain tumor surgery and use state-of-the-art technology to perform the procedure.

Surgeons may use neuronavigation, or computer-guided surgery; electrophysiological monitoring, which is sensitive electrical testing of affected nerves during surgery; and functional mapping of speech and motor areas. Mapping these important areas of the brain can make surgery safer and more effective.

Surgery is also often guided by computer software that incorporates MRI and CT scan images of the brain tumor. This helps a surgeon pinpoint the tumor and remove it with great precision, limiting the effect on nearby healthy tissues. It’s important for doctors to avoid unnecessary damage to the brain, especially sensitive regions that control movement, language, hearing, touch, sight, smell, and taste.

At NYU Langone, a team of clinical neurophysiologists, doctors who specialize in the electrical activity of the nervous system, monitors brain function during surgery to ensure the procedure does not affect any important nerves.


Doctors perform a craniotomy to remove as much of a tumor as possible while minimizing damage to the brain. During this procedure, a surgeon makes an incision in the scalp and a small hole in the skull, and then removes as much of the growth as possible. He or she uses microinstruments, extremely small surgical tools designed for complex surgeries.

Dr. John Golfinos Performs Surgery

Dr. John Golfinos performs surgery.

A craniotomy is performed using general anesthesia in the majority of people with metastatic brain tumors. Depending on the location of the tumor, the surgeon may have the anesthesiologist wake you up during the procedure to make sure that specific brain functions, such as speech and language, are not damaged. Waking up during surgery is painless, and our doctors prepare you for this approach ahead of time.

Recovery from Surgery

The hospital stay after surgery for a brain metastasis can range from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on how large the tumor is and where it is located.

During recovery at the hospital, a doctor monitors your neurologic function and manages any pain or other symptoms. Sometimes, doctors may recommend inpatient neurorehabilitation at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, which can range from a few days to a few weeks. This type of rehabilitation focuses on optimizing cognitive and motor function after surgery.

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