Posterior Fossa Decompression

What is a posterior fossa decompression?

A Posterior Fossa Decompression is done to relieve the constriction and create more space at the base of the brain.
The procedure involves a cut being made into the tissues at the back of the head and the neck bones covering the base of the brain.

A small section of bone is removed from the base of the skull and at times from the upper back. In many cases the above procedure is enough to relieve the constriction and nothing further is required.

However, in some cases there is a tight band of tissue or scar tissue around the base of the brain which constricts the lining of the brain.

For this reason the lining of the brain is opened to allow further relief. Through a separate cut, a tissue graft is taken from the patient’s thigh and placed in the opening of the brain. It is stitched into position to widen the opening and create more space for the base of the brain.

The bone will be left out and the cut is closed with sutures or clips.

My Anaesthetic

This procedure will require a General Anaesthetic.

See About your Anaesthetic information sheet for information about the anaesthetic and the risks involved. If you have any concerns, talk these over with your doctor.

If you have not been given an information sheet, please ask for one.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are some risks/complications with this procedure.

Common risks include:

  • Infection. This may need antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Minor pain, bruising and/or infection from IV cannula site. This may require treatment with antibiotics.
  • Bleeding. A return to the operating room for further surgery may be required if bleeding occurs. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Asprin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).

Uncommon risks include:

  • A heart attack because of the strain on the heart.
  • Stroke or stroke like complications can occur which can cause weakness in the face, arms and legs. This could be temporary or permanent.
  • Fluid leakage from around the brain can occur after the operation. This may require further surgery.
  • The problem may not be cured by this surgery. This may require further treatment.
  • Small areas of the lung may collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increase risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
  • Clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) with pain and swelling. Rarely part of this clot may break off and go into the lungs.

Rare risks include:

  • Death is rare due to this procedure.