Neurosurgery is a medical branch that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the brain, spinal cord, spine, and damage to peripheral nerves. The neurosurgeon provides both conservative and surgical treatment, depending on the type of disease or traumatic injury.
What types of diseases do neurosurgeons treat?
Neurosurgeons are not limited in their activities only to the treatment of brain diseases. Representatives of this medicine branch get such an education that allows them to provide assistance to patients with head and spine injuries as well as cerebrovascular accidents. For example, in the presence of cerebral aneurysms, with intracerebral hemorrhage or thrombosis of the arteries that cause a stroke, as well as with headaches, pain in the face and back, with tumors of the head and spinal cord.
The list of brain, spine and nerve injuries includes the following conditions:
- neurosurgical diseases of the brain and spinal cord in adults and children;
- malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord, as well as peripheral nerves;
- benign tumors – meningeomas, epidermoids, dermoids, hemanglioblastomas, colloidal cysts, subependymal giant cell astrocytomas, pituitary adenomas, craniopharyngeomas, acoustic neuromas, abscesses, etc.;
- neurovascular surgery – arteriovenous malformations of the brain and spinal cord, aneurysms, hemorrhages, stenosis of blood vessels, thrombosis, etc.
- spinal neurosurgery – discogenic radiculitis, compression of the spinal cord, stenosis of the spinal canal, discitis;
- surgery of peripheral nerves – stenosing neuropathies (carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.), as well as traumatic nerve injuries;
- functional and stereotactic neurosurgery – neuralgia of the trigeminal and glossopharyngeal nerves, unilateral facial spasm, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, tremor, chronic pain syndrome, etc.
- head and spine injuries – including severe brain damage (cerebral coma), monitoring of intracranial pressure, correction of spinal fractures with spinal cord decompression, etc.
How are neurosurgeons trained?
After receiving higher medical education, for example in the University of Kentucky, the future specialist doctor begins practice in neurosurgical residency, the duration of which is 6 years.
While in residency, future neurosurgeons are trained in all neurosurgical fields, including vascular neurosurgery of the brain, pediatrics, spinal injuries and tumors. The residency program is very long and difficult, which is explained by the exceptional complexity of the nervous system and the need to use the most modern equipment and technology during operations. After the end of the residency, some neurosurgeons choose the opportunity to conduct additional research in a specific area of medicine.
After finishing studying, neurosurgeons take exams and, depending on their results, are assessed according to the degree of mastery of practical skills in neurosurgery and acquired theoretical knowledge. As a result of successfully passing the exam, you can get a certificate, which allows a neurosurgeon to practice independently in, for example, the University of Kentucky Medical Center.
Despite the fact that after the mastered studying program neurosurgeons have a wide and comprehensive knowledge, in the field of neurosurgery, there are continuous changes that require a constant replenishment of knowledge from the specialist and the need to continue professional research throughout the neurosurgeon’s career. In this he is assisted by monthly scientific journals in the field of neurosurgery, annual meetings, specialized conferences and seminars, which help the neurosurgeon to keep abreast of all the innovations and progressive changes in the field of neurosurgery.
What is the role of a neurosurgeon?
Neurosurgeons provide both surgical and non-surgical follow-up of neurological damage (prevention, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, critical follow-up and rehabilitation). Because neurosurgeons have a wide and versatile knowledge of the diagnosis of neurosurgical diseases, they are often recruited as consultants by emergency doctors, neurologists, internal medicine specialists, osteopaths, family doctors, and others.
What’s new in neurosurgery?
Although neurosurgery is essentially an integral part of surgery in general, today most patients are tried to be treated with the most gentle methods of treatment – with minimal invasion or through conservative methods. The minimum amount of intervention can be achieved due to the accelerated improvement of technologies and devices:
- the use of improved operating microscopes;
- focal radiation therapy;
- stereotaxic radiation surgery;
- ultrathin cutting instruments;
- spinal cementation.
All these significantly modify the principles and approaches to the treatment of neurological damage.
The rapid development of medicine stimulates neurosurgeons to explore the nuances of technology, while increasing the ability of specialists to monitor patients and choose the most appropriate surgery for a particular patient, which the patient can easily endure.