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Neurology & Doctors

What Is Neurosurgery?

Neurosurgery is a field of medicine that focuses on the management and treatment of patients with conditions affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems which require surgery. These include conditions involving the brain, spinal cord, and spinal nerves. Neurosurgical options are usually considered when less invasive medical options are not effective.

What Is A Neurosurgeon’s Training?

The educational training needed to become a neurosurgeon is extensive. In addition to completing a four year undergraduate program as well as four years of medical school, neurosurgeons must also complete a neurosurgical residency. A neurosurgical residency can take up to seven years to complete.

Further, neurosurgeons must practice in the field for several years before they are even eligible to become board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Neurosurgeons are trained to manage and treat neurological disorders, conditions, and diseases that affect all aspects of the nervous system. These include spinal disorders; herniated discs; stroke; brain injuries; nerve injuries as well as other conditions that affect the nervous system.

Although neurosurgeons are trained in neurosurgical procedures, they may nonetheless recommend non-surgical treatment methods, depending on the nature of a patient’s disease or injury.

Some common conditions that neurosurgeons diagnose and treat include:

  • Cervical radiculopathy, including conditions that cause tingling, weakness, or numbness in the arms, hands and fingers;
  • Sciatica or Radiculopathy, irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve which can cause discomfort and pain in a patient’s leg, thigh, or foot. Sciatica can be the result of a herniated disc, pinched nerve or spinal stenosis;
  • Herniated disc, or a damaged intervertebral disc that can result in pressure on your spinal nerves, resulting in leg or arm pain, tingling, numbness and weakness;
  • Stroke, shortage or abrupt stoppage of blood supply to the brain, causing deprivation of oxygen and nutrients, and damage to the brain;
  • Head injury and brain trauma.

What to Expect During Your Neurosurgical Examination?

Your primary care doctor, or neurologist, may refer you to a neurosurgeon for a surgical opinion regarding your condition. Although neurosurgeons specialize in neurosurgical intervention, not all patients who visit a neurosurgeon require surgery.

Instead, your doctor will conduct a physical examination, review your medical records and ask about your medical history in an effort to understand the cause and extent of your pain. The doctor will also review your diagnostic testing like, MRI scans or EMG/NCV studies, to get a better understanding of your condition. Once all relevant information is reviewed, your doctor will recommend a course of treatment.

What Type Of Diagnostic Testing Would You Expect A Neurosurgeon To Recommend?

Below are some diagnostic tests that a neurosurgeon may recommend:

Computerized Tomography (CT Scan), many intra cranial as well as spinal pathologies can be examined and identified using CT scanning;

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), detailed images of intra and extra-cranial structures without exposure to potentially dangerous radiation;

Discogram, a type of x-ray used assess whether an intervertebral disc is damaged.

Direct Roentgenogram, a diagnostic method used in patients with head trauma because it provides useful information about bone fractures and bone erosion.

Lumbar Puncture, a procedure where a neurosurgeon inserts a needle between two lumbar bones to take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for laboratory testing. This fluid surrounds your brain and spinal cord, protecting them from trauma.

Electroencephalography (EEG), evaluates the spontaneous electrical activity of the brain using electrodes positioned on the scalp.

What Type of Procedures Does a Neurosurgeon Perform?

Neurosurgeons perform medical procedures to repair or treat conditions of the nervous system including:

  • Spinal surgery, including herniated disc surgery;
  • Microvascular decompression, a surgery to relieve abnormal compression of a cranial nerve;
  • Embolization procedures, minimally invasive treatments that block one or more blood vessels without invasive surgery;
  • Removal of brain tumors;
  • Coiling and microsurgical repair of aneurysms.

What Can You Expect After Neurosurgery?

In most cases, you will feel very tired for several weeks after neurosurgery. You may also suffer from headaches, fogginess, or difficulty concentrating. It can take five to eight weeks, or even longer, to recover from neurosurgery.

Your incisions may be sore for about 5 days after neurosurgery. You may also have shooting pains or numbness near your wound. As your wound begins to heal, it may start to itch. Medication and ice packs can help with swelling, headaches, itching, and pain.

The stitches that hold your incisions together may dissolve, or they may need to be removed with the assistance of your doctor, depending on the surgery and type of sutures. You should strictly follow the treatment plan provided by your neurosurgeon including, medications, diet, and rest.

Top Neurosurgery Doctors Near you in NY

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