OHSU

What is Neurosurgery?

Brain SpineNeurosurgery is surgery of the nervous system. 

Most people think of neurosurgery as brain surgery — but it is much more!
It is the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of of patients with injury to, or diseases/disorders of the brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and peripheral nerves within all parts of the body. The specialty of neurosurgical care includes both adult and pediatric patients. Dependent upon the nature of the injury or disease a neurological surgeon may provide surgical and/or non-surgical care.

Who is a Neurosurgeon?

A physician who specializes in neurosurgery. Neurosurgeons are not just brain surgeons, they are medically trained neurosurgical specialists who can also help patients suffering from back and neck pain as well as a host of other illnesses ranging from trigeminal neuralgia to head injury and Parkinson's disease.

To become a neurosurgeon, at OHSU a physician must accomplish the following:

  • graduate from an accredited medical school (four years);
  • complete a six month to one-year surgical internship in the Department of Surgery, this builds fundamental clinical skills;
  • complete seven years in the neurosurgical residency program accredited by the American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

During this residency training, neurosurgeons are trained in all aspects of neurosurgery, including the cerebrovascular system, the spine and spinal cord, trauma, tumors, pain management and pediatric surgery. Residents complete a minimum of 60 months of training in the neurological sciences, with at least 36 of those months are devoted to clinical neurosurgery and a minimum of 3 months devoted to clinical neurology.

Some neurosurgeons opt to complete an additional fellowship in a particular specialized area of study after their residency.
Following residency training, neurosurgeons become board certified, and continue with relevant training.

What is the role of the Neurosurgeon?

Neurosurgeons provide the operative and non-operative management (i.e., prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, critical care and rehabilitation) of neurological disorders. Because neurosurgeons have extensive training in the diagnosis of all neurological disease, emergency room doctors, neurologists, internists, family practitioners, and osteopaths often call upon them for consultations.