Havasupai Indian Reservation waterfall

What is neurosurgery?

Neurosurgery is a surgical specialty that provides diagnosis and surgical treatment for diseases that involve the structures of the nervous system. These structures include:

  • The brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves
  • The bones, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissues that surround the nervous system
  • The blood vessels that supply to the nervous system

A medical doctor that specializes in neurosurgery is called a neurosurgeon. There are several sub-specialties in neurosurgery, including

  • Functional and stereotactic neurosurgery
  • Neurotrauma
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Skull base neurosurgery
  • Spinal neurosurgery
  • Surgical neuro-oncology
  • Vascular neurosurgery

What is neurosurgery used for?

Neurosurgeons treat people who have suffered from brain or spinal cord injuries, diseases, or conditions, such as:

  • Blood vessel disorders in the brain or spinal cord, such as aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), and dural arteriovenous fistulae
  • Stroke disorders such as ischemic strokes (caused by blood clots), hemorrhagic strokes (caused by bleeding in the brain), and transient ischemic attacks (TIA or “mini-stroke”)
  • Brain injury, including anoxic injury or traumatic brain injury
  • Brain tumors, both benign and cancerous
  • Degenerative disorders (disorders that get worse over time) such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s chorea, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Functional disorders, such as headache, seizure disorder, dizziness, balance disorders, and neuralgia
  • Infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis, polio, and brain abscesses
  • Movement disorders, such as dyskinesia and essential tremor
  • Neuromuscular disorders, such as Bell’s palsy, cervical spondylosis, peripheral neuropathy, muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome

Am I a good candidate for neurosurgery?

If you have experienced a brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve injury, or you have a disease or condition affecting the brain, spine, or peripheral nervous system, you may need to see a neurosurgeon. A primary care or internal medicine physician can help you to know when it is time to see a neurosurgeon or other specialists.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

Information and Resources

The American Board of Neurological Surgery