What is Neurosurgery?
Neurosurgery is much more than brain surgery. Neurosurgery is a surgical specialty that involves the conservative and surgical management of a wide variety of disorders affecting the brain, the spinal cord and spinal column, and the peripheral nerves. Common conditions managed by neurosurgeons include brain tumors, intracranial aneurysms, head injuries, and a broad spectrum of disorders affecting the spine including spinal canal stenosis, herniated discs, tumors, fractures, and spinal deformities.
A neurosurgeon is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system including congenital anomalies, trauma, tumors, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
The education and training to become a neurosurgeon is rigorous and extensive. Because of this, emergency room doctors, neurologists, internists, family practitioners, and osteopaths often call upon neurosurgeons for consultations.
Although it is fundamentally a surgical discipline, neurosurgery requires knowledge of neurology, critical care, trauma care, and radiology. In fact, neurosurgeons manage a more diverse group of conditions than many surgical sub-specialties that focus on a particular organ or organ system. Today, neurosurgery is one of the most technologically involved surgical specialties with many contributions from computer-based neuronavigational technology, spinal biomechanics and instrumentation, gene therapy for brain tumor management, and catheter-driven endovascular techniques, as well as continued advances in neuroradiological technology.
Although most neurosurgeons today continue to practice general neurosurgery, the rapid advancement of the field of neurosurgery in recent years has generated the development of numerous sub-specialities within the field and more neurosurgeons are electing to enter optional one-year fellowships after their residency training.
Sub-specialties in Neurosurgery today include:
- Spinal Surgery
- Epilepsy Surgery
- Functional Neurosurgery
- Cerebrovascular Surgery
- Pediatric Neurosurgery
- Skull Base Surgery