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Neurosurgery Specialist Doctor
Neurosurgery Specialist Doctor
In dealing with diseases and health problems related to nerves, treatments through medications are sometimes insufficient. Surgical procedures would sometimes have to be performed to heal a patient. A doctor who has the ability to deal with neurological diseases through surgery is called a neurosurgeon.
A neurosurgeon is not only competent in performing medical operations. They are also able to provide a diagnosis to determine the type of surgery suitable for said patient with health problems related to the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
The nervous system plays a vital role in the human body as it regulates the various functions and workings of the body..
Although they sound similar, neurosurgeons are different from neurologists.
A neurologist treats various neurological problems through medical measures such as administering medications, therapy, and other non-surgical methods. Meanwhile, a neurosurgeon treats varying neurological problems with surgery.
As technology advances, the practice of neurosurgery has also improved and led to the emergence of increasingly diverse techniques and procedures. Among those procedures are minimally invasive surgeries; a surgical method without open surgery, using microscopic surgical instruments and an endoscope to minimise pain, trauma, and speed up recovery time.
Sub-specialties in Neurosurgery
Neurosurgery sub-specialties are also increasingly diverse. The following are several types of neurosurgery sub-specialties based on the type and location of nerves, the type of health disorder, and the age range:
- Paediatric Neurosurgery
As the name implies, the paediatric neurosurgery sub-specialty focuses on treating neurological disorders in children. Common cases include deformities that affect the head and face, spinal disorders, hydrocephalus, and tumors.
- Oncological Neurosurgery
This sub-specialty focuses on treating cases of cancer or tumors that affect the nervous system, especially the brain and spinal cord.
- Functional Neurosurgery
Neurosurgery sub-specialty that focuses on neurological disorders affecting body functions, motor and sensory. Examples of disorders treated are epilepsy, carpal tunnel syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.
- Vascular Neurosurgery
This sub-specialty focuses on treating problems related to blood vessels in the brain, such as strokes, brain aneurysms, or arteriovenous malformation
- Trauma Neurosurgery
Neurosurgery sub-specialty that focuses on head injury cases, especially in the brain.
- Skull Base Surgery
Neurosurgery sub-specialty that focuses on treating disorders in the skull area caused by infections or tumors.
- Spine Neurosurgery
Neurosurgery sub-specialty that focuses on treating spinal nerve disorders like a pinched nerve. Generally, this disorder occurs in elderly patients.
Diseases Treated by Neurosurgeons
There are several neurological diseases that require to be treated surgically, such as:
- Brain aneurysm, or a ruptured blood vessel in the brain
- Cancer or tumors in the central nervous area (brain and spine), or skull
- Spinal malformations
- Pinched nerve
- Spine, neck, or head injuries
- Inflammation of the spine
- Brain abscess
- Spina bifida
- Carpal Tunnel Syndorme
- Brain herniation
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cerebral palsy
- Nerve pain
Medical Procedures That Neurosurgeons Can Perform
Similar to any specialist doctor, a neurosurgeon will trace the patient’s medical history and perform a physical examination. Neurosurgeons usually work with neurologists and orthopedists as they can provide an initial diagnosis and provide advice on health problems requiring surgical procedures.
Prior to a surgery, a neurosurgeon may advise the patient to undergo additional tests such as urine tests, brain fluid analysis, blood tests, and imaging tests. Often times, neurosurgeons advise patients to undergo electroencephalography (EEG) or electrical activity tests for the brain.
In addition, the neurosurgeon will also assist the patient in ordering the anaesthesia used for the operation. Generally, there are three types of anaesthesia used – general, regional, or local anaesthesia. Each type has a different level of pain relief and prevents nerve reflexes during the operation. Patients that undergo surgery must also report the consumption of medications that have the potential for blood thinning or if they have blood clotting disorders to avoid complications.
There are several medical procedures a neurosurgeon can perform:
- Craniotomy or brain surgery, a surgical procedure that opens and removes a small part of the skull (bone flap) to treat disorders of the brain. Generally performed to remove a brain abscess, repair the skull, collect blood clots, or remove tumors.
- Awake brain surgery (AWS), a type of craniotomy that uses local anaesthetics and sedatives to keep the patient conscious. This surgical procedure is generally used to treat epilepsy and brain tumors, as well as in surgery for areas of the brain close to the centre of vision, movement of the limbs, and speech.
- Neuroendoscopy, a surgical procedure performed without opening the skull. There will be an endoscope inserted through the nose or mouth.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), a slightly different neurosurgical procedure since it uses radiation aimed at certain parts of the brain without any skin incisions. SRS is radiation to kill tumor cells that grow in the brain.
- Microsurgery, a surgery using a microscope to provide a clearer visualisation of nerves. Generally performed to repair damaged peripheral nerves.
- Deep brain stimulation, a surgery on the brain through insertion of electrodes in certain areas. Patients who undergo a surgery must also report the consumption of medications that have the potential for blood thinning or if they have blood clotting disorders to avoid complications.
- VP Shunt surgery, a surgery to remove excess brain fluid by attaching a special tube, which is often applied to cases of hydrocephalus.
When to See a Neurosurgeon?
If not handled promptly and appropriately, neurological disorders can be fatal to the body. Neurological disorders that require surgery are generally high-risk diseases as they cannot be treated with medications only. The following are some symptoms of neurological disorders that you should be aware of:
- Experience persistent and severe headaches,
- Vomiting without nausea.
- In a coma.
- Severe head injury and experience fainting.
- Paralysis of the limbs.
- Loss of sensory abilities or numbness.
- Prolonged uncontrollable tremors that last a long time.
- Memory loss or difficulty storing memory.
- Pain that never goes away, presumably due to a nervous breakdown.
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