Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is radiation a good alternative to brain surgery?"
I'm a 31 year old male and my doctor suggested I brain surgery to treat an infection. Would radiation work just as well? I don't want them to open up myh head unless they absolutely have to.
Radiation is being increasingly used for many different problems, and is often thought of favorably from a patient standpoint because of the ability to avoid the pain and well described complications of surgery. Like anything, however, radiation therapy is only appropriate in some circumstances. Many tumors and cancers are being treated using radiation as the only therapy, or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy, for example. Your case is different, however, because you mention that surgery would be used to treat an infection. The reason to treat an infection with surgery is to be able to remove material that antibiotics will not able to reach. Antibiotics work by helping your body to kill bacteria. Antibiotics do not work in abscesses or collections, because there is not enough blood flow for them to penetrate into the collection and kill all of the bacteria. This means that the bacteria will remain indefinitely and cause problems or grow intermittently. For that reason, surgery is recommended to drain the abscess and allow antibiotics and your body the chance to heal completely. Please discuss your concerns with your doctor, and know that surgery is often the only way to treat infections that have walled themselves off from the body.
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