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St. Patrick Hospital

Montana Neuroscience Institute

Monday April 27, 2015
What is Neurosurgery?

neurosurgeryNeurosurgery is more than just brain surgery.

Neurosurgery is a highly specialized branch of the medical field that deals with the surgical treatment of problems of the nervous system. The physicians who practice in this field are known as neurosurgeons, and are medical doctors who undergo years of rigorous training. 15 years of education after high school are typically required. Currently, there are only 3,894 board-certified neurosurgeons practicing in the United States.

The number and variety of illnesses that neurosurgeons are called upon to treat may surprise you. You or someone you know will require a visit to a neurosurgeon during your lifetime. Neurosurgeons treat back and neck pain, spinal arthritis and herniated discs, spinal fractures and injuries in addition to the brain diseases that most people associate with the field. Neurosurgeons are experts in the surgical treatment of the following:

• back pain
• neck pain
• spine arthritis
• herniated spinal discs
• spinal stenosis
• spinal fractures
• head injuries
• nerve injuries
• carpal tunnel syndrome
• brain tumors
• brain aneurysms
• brain hemorrhages
• epilepsy
• hydrocephalus or "water on the brain"
• acute and chronic pain
• pain caused by cancer
• parkinson's disease
• tremors
• stroke
• artery blockages in the neck and brain

The practice of neurosurgery is highly technical and dependent upon ever more specialized and expensive equipment. Most neurosurgeons are associated with larger hospitals where such equipment is available. Modern, cutting edge surgeries of the spine and brain require expensive operating theaters that contain powerful microscopes, computer systems for navigating the intricacies of the patient's spine and brain, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of surgical tools and implantable devices. Care of neurosurgery patients in hospital requires a highly trained team of other physicians, nurses, and therapists familiar with the field and its patients.