Surgery for Glioblastoma Multiforme

There are three surgical procedures that may be performed on patients with glioblastoma multiforme. All of these are best performed by highly skilled neurosurgeons with experience in rare brain tumors.  

Surgical biopsy: The first surgery a patient may have is a biopsy, to extract a sample of the tissue to determine what it is.  Most cases of glioblastoma multiforme can be biopsied easily. 

Resection (removal): A highly skilled neurosurgeon will perform a craniotomy to remove a portion of the skull to gain access to the tumor to remove it. The goal of the surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging healthy brain tissue. The skill and training of the neurosurgeon is critical to how much of the tumor can be removed.   

Shunt placement/revision: A tumor may be blocking the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), leading to a buildup of pressure in the brain (hydrocephalus). A neurosurgeon can place a temporary drain, called a ventriculostomy or external ventricular drain (EVD), to relieve pressure. An internal shunt is a more permanent solution — it drains CSF into the patient’s abdomen, where it is absorbed into the body. Shunts may sometimes need to be repositioned to continue to drain effectively, which is called a shunt revision. 

Awake surgery and brain mapping: Sometimes, your neurosurgeon will need to map your brain during your procedure. This may entail you being awake for part of the procedure. Don’t worry – it will not be painful. The awake portion of the procedure is designed so that your surgeon can localize the areas of your brain critical for language function or movement. This allows your surgeon to remove the maximal amount of tumor while keeping you safe in the process. (See I Was Awake During My Brain Surgery for a patient’s view of what an awake craniotomy is like.)

Intraoperative Fluorescence: In many brain tumor operations, patients can now benefit from intraoperative fluorescence using 5-ALA technology. Using this novel treatment, surgeons have a new way of visualizing brain tumors separately from healthy brain tissue, thereby maximizing the degree of brain tumor removal.

At Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, our adult and pediatric neurosurgeons are highly skilled in the most advanced procedures for treating rare brain tumors like glioblastoma multiforme. Use our online form to request an appointment for an evaluation or second opinion. 

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Our Care Team

  • Chairman and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief
  • Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Vice Provost of Business Affairs and Integration
Phone: 212-746-4684
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
  • Alvina and Willis Murphy Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Brain Metastases Program
  • Co-director, William Rhodes and Louise Tilzer-Rhodes Center for Glioblastoma
Phone: 212-746-1996
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Leon Levy Research Fellow
  • Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute
Phone: 646-962-3389
  • Assistant Professor, Neurological Surgery
Phone: 718-670-1837
  • Director, Neurosurgical Radiosurgery
  • Associate Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Robert G. Schwager, MD ’67 Education Scholar, Cornell University
Phone: 212-746-2438
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Vice Chair for Clinical Research
  • David and Ursel Barnes Professor in Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Otolaryngology
  • Director, Center for Epilepsy and Pituitary Surgery
  • Co-Director, Surgical Neuro-oncology
Phone: 212-746-5620
  • Director of Neuro-oncology
  • Director, Brain Tumor Center, Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center
Phone: 646-962-2185
  • Assistant Attending Neurologist, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Assistant Professor of Neuro-Oncologist
Phone: 646-962-2185

Reviewed by: Rohan Ramakrishna, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: December 2020

Weill Cornell Medicine Brain & Spine Center 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787