What Is Neurosurgery?

Neurosurgery involves surgical and noninvasive management of conditions affecting the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and all other nerves that run in the body. Neurosurgeons can also diagnose, evaluate, treat and rehabilitate patients with neurological conditions.

What Medical Conditions Do Neurosurgeons Treat?

Our multi-faceted neurological care team in Memphis, TN can treat the full range of conditions affecting the nerves, brain and spinal cord, such as:

  • Achondroplasia
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Astrocytoma tumors
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Brain cancer
  • Brain tumors
  • Chiari I and Chiari II malformations
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Meningioma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Spinal cord dysgraphia
  • Spinal deformities
  • Spine trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tethered cord
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

Some neurological disorders have effects that cannot be reversed. Treatments for these conditions may only reduce the risk of complications and manage related health problems. Our neurological care team will work with your primary doctor to provide you with treatment options that may best suit your condition.

Why Would You Be Referred to a Neurosurgeon?

Having a neurosurgeon referral does not necessarily mean that a patient must undergo surgery. It only means they will receive a comprehensive neurological and medical examination from a neurosurgeon to evaluate the best treatment options, which can be surgical, nonsurgical or both. A patient may be referred to a neurosurgeon if they are not responding to noninvasive treatments, or surgery may be an optimal treatment for their condition.

What to Expect at a Neurosurgeon Appointment?

During your visit, your neurosurgeon will ask about your medical history and perform medical imaging examinations. They will tell you about your condition in detail and the treatments available for you. Feel free to ask them questions. If your neurosurgeon recommends surgery, they will discuss its risk, how you should prepare and any possible alternative treatments.

Neurosurgery Procedures

Some of the surgical procedures our neurosurgeons perform include:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) - aims to treat compressed nerves, herniated discs or other conditions in the neck by removing a damaged spinal disc to alleviate pain, numbness and other symptoms.
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) - a spinal fusion surgery type wherein a surgeon accesses the lumbar spine bones through the abdominal region rather than from the back. The damaged spinal disc will be replaced with a plastic, metal or bone spacer containing bone graft, an additional bone needed for bones to heal and fuse.
  • Craniotomy – the skull is opened to access the brain for surgery and remove:
    • Brain tumor – abnormal cell growth in the brain.
    • Subdural hematoma – blood collecting between the brain surface and its covering (dura).
  • Kyphoplasty – aims to treat spinal compression fractures.
  • Lumbar laminectomy and decompression – procedures that aim to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or its nerve roots by removing the lamina partly or entirely. The lamina is a protective arch over the spinal cord.
  • Lumbar microdiscectomy – the neurosurgeon uses a special microscope to inspect the spinal discs and nerves before removing herniated discs through a smaller incision.
  • Posterior cervical decompression and fusion (PCDF) - aims to decompress and stabilize the spinal cord. A surgeon may place bone grafts along the spine’s sides to help them meld together during healing.
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) - the neurosurgeon replaces the diseased or weakened spinal disc with a bone graft.
  • Sacroiliac fusion – a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small incision and inserting implants across the sacroiliac joint for stability and pain relief.
  • Spinal cord stimulator placement – implanting a device to relieve chronic nerve pain in the back and neck by stopping the pain signal from reaching the brain.
  • Ventricular-peritoneal shunt insertion – draining excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain.
  • Ventriculostomy – a catheter connects the brain ventricles to an external device where excess cerebrospinal fluid will be collected.
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