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Neurosurgeons: Who they are and what they treat

Posted August 17, 2020 by Samuel R Borsellino, MD

A neurosurgeon is a physician who specializes in disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This complex network is made up of the brain, spinal cord, skull and vertebrae as well as the cranial and spinal nerves outside the central nervous system. 

These brain and nerve disorders can include:
• Congenital problems such as hydrocephalus and scoliosis
Trauma such as head injuries and vertebral fractures
Tumors and cysts of the brain and spine
Vascular disorders 
Brain or spine infections
Epilepsy due to genetics, trauma or illness
Strokes and arteriovenous malformations
Chronic pain due to sciatica, cervical spine disorders, trigeminal neuralgia or nerve compression syndrome
Degenerative spine diseases such as osteoarthritis, herniated discs and lumbar spinal stenosis
Peripheral nerve injury

It takes a lot of training to become a neurosurgeon. 

Their education typically includes four years of pre-med, four years of medical school, a year of post-graduate internship and seven years of residency. Many also go on to fellowship training, which entails another year of highly specialized training to hone their skills in specific areas.

All Summa Health neurosurgeons are also board certified in their field. Some offer special expertise in the management of brain and spinal cord tumors, while other specialize in diseases of the spine and vascular malformations.

When injury or illness impedes your abilities, rest assured that your neurosurgeon has the training and expertise to properly diagnose the problem, perform the appropriate surgical intervention, and follow through until you’re well again. 

Neurosurgeons offer a wide array of treatment options.

Because the brain and nervous system are so intricate, neurosurgeons operate with exacting precision. While “surgeon” is part of their job title, neurosurgeons also rely on non-surgical treatments as well. For instance, they can prescribe medications, exercise and physical therapy for those suffering from neck and back pain.

For patients who don’t improve with non-surgical treatments, neurosurgeons may recommend minimally invasive or traditional surgical treatment options. These operations can include:
Neuro-oncology for brain tumors
Spinal neurosurgery
Functional and epilepsy neurosurgery
Microsurgery and coiling to repair aneurysms
Chiari decompression surgery

Neurosurgery is constantly advancing, with surgical treatments being discovered and perfected every day. Minimally invasive techniques are being developed to help minimize stress on the brain and body during surgery and to help patients recover more quickly and easily.

Your multidisciplinary Summa Health neuroscience team includes several board-certified neurosurgeons. If you’d like to make an appointment, call 330.576.3500.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.