What is Neurosurgery?

Definition of Neurological Surgery
Neurosurgery is the discipline of medicine and specialty of surgery that provides operative and non-operative management (i.e. critical care, prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation) of disorders of the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their supporting structures and vascular supply; the evaluation and treatment of pathological processes that modify the function or activity of the nervous system, including the hypophysis; and the operative and non-operative management of pain.

As such, neurological surgery encompasses treatment of adult and pediatric patients with disorders of the nervous system:

  • Disorders of the brain, meninges, and skull, and their blood supply
    (includes the extracranial carotid and vertebral column; and those that may require treatment by spinal fusion or instrumentation); and
  • Disorders of the cranial and spinal nerves throughout their distribution

For more information on neurosurgery, please visit The American Board of Neurological Surgery.

What is a Neurosurgeon?
Neurosurgeons treat diseases of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and their coverings, including the skull and the spine, when those diseases may require surgery. Although surgery is an important part of what neurosurgeons do, they are also experts in the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of these diseases.

Doctors must take a minimum of six years of residency training (one of general surgery and five of neurosurgery) to become eligible to take the final examination of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and become board certified in neurosurgery.

Many neurosurgeons take additional subspecialty training after residency to gain expertise in a particular area of neurosurgical practice. It is not unusual for a neurosurgeon to take seven to ten years of training after medical school before entering neurosurgical practice.


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