Neurosurgeons

Neurological surgery is a medical discipline dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and surgical management of disorders affecting the nervous system.

Neurosurgeons are physicians (MD or DO) who specialize in a wide array of conditions, diseases and disorders that affect the nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves), as well as the structures (skull and spine) that support the nervous system (arteries and veins).

Every day, neurosurgeons address brain tumors, spinal disorders, vascular malformations, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, peripheral nerve disorders and traumatic injuries, in both adults and children.

Beyond surgery, neurosurgeons play a key role in restoring health and improving the quality of life for patients facing complex neurologic challenges.

Neurosurgeons not only excel in surgical interventions but also contribute to critical care, closely monitoring and managing patients in the delicate postoperative period. Neurosurgeons use their specialist level knowledge to help in the nonsurgical management in many disorders of the nervous system, such as brain tumors, stroke and spinal disorders. The comprehensive approach involves collaboration with multidisciplinary teams to ensure the best possible outcomes for neurosurgical patients.

Many point to neurosurgery is the most demanding specialty, which is why it requires the longest amount of training of any medical speciality.  Unlike other parts of the human body, the nervous system does not tolerate mistakes well. Errors in judgement or technique can have very serious consequences for patients.

Click here to learn more about neurosurgery training.

Neurosurgeons and neurologists are both physicians (MD or DO) who diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

However, they are different types of physicians with responsibilities.

A neurologist focuses on non-surgical treatment options. Meanwhile, neurosurgeons are physicians who are trained to perform surgical procedures.

Roles and Responsibilities

Neurologist

  • Role: A neurologist is a physician (MD or DO) who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
  • Primary Responsibilities:
    • Conducting detailed patient evaluations and neurological examinations.
    • Diagnosing conditions through medical history, physical exams, and diagnostic tests like MRIs, CT scans, EEGs, and lumbar punctures.
    • Managing and treating neurological disorders with medications and other non-surgical methods.
    • Providing long-term care and management for chronic neurological diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and migraines.

Neurosurgeon:

  • Role: A neurosurgeon is a physician (MD or DO) trained to perform surgical procedures on the nervous system.
  • Primary Responsibilities:
    • Diagnosing neurological conditions that may require surgical intervention.
    • Performing surgeries on the brain, spine, and peripheral nerves, such as tumor removal, spinal cord surgeries, aneurysm repair, and trauma surgery.
    • Post-operative care and monitoring recovery from surgeries.
    • The non-operative management of certain disorders, such as brain tumors.
    • Collaborating with neurologists and other specialists to determine the best course of action for patients requiring surgery.

Treatment Approaches

Neurologist:

  • Non-Surgical: Focuses on the use of medications, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and other non-invasive treatments.
  • Long-term Management: Often deals with chronic conditions and their management over a patient’s lifetime.
  • Diagnostic Expertise: Skilled in interpreting various diagnostic tests to diagnose neurological disorders accurately.

Neurosurgeon:

  • Surgical: Specializes in operative techniques to address brain tumors, spinal disorders, vascular malformations, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, peripheral nerve disorders and traumatic injuries, in both adults and children.
  • Interventional: Provides critical surgical intervention, which might be life-saving or significantly improve the quality of life for patients with severe neurological conditions.
  • Collaboration: Often works closely with neurologists to determine if surgery is the appropriate course of action.