Neurosurgery is a speciality of medicine that deals with operative and non-operative treatment of a wide range of issues. The treatment is focused on management, including prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, critical care and rehabilitation, for a variety of nervous system disorders. Neurosurgical conditions involve primarily the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. Previously, these diseases were considered incurable. However, modern medical advancements have proven to help these patients get back to a productive and healthy lifestyle.
How to prepare
The prospect of having neurosurgery can be daunting. Patients are encouraged to ask their doctor many questions. Information can help lessen any anxiety and make you feel more comfortable going into the procedure. Patients will need to be medically cleared for neurosurgery or spinal surgery. This may include seeing other specialist doctors, such as an internist or cardiologist.
You may also be advised to stop taking medications or start taking new medications in preparation for surgery. The consumption of alcohol and tobacco is also discouraged leading up to your treatment. Discussions with your doctor will adequately inform you of any other steps to take leading up to surgery.
What to expect during the procedure
There are many different types of treatment when it comes to neurosurgery and spinal surgery. Each treatment may be performed differently, and adjusted accordingly to your condition and general health. You will likely need to be put under general anesthesia but some neurosurgeries are best performed whilst you are awake. Neurosurgery today relies on some of the most modern and innovative medical tools and techniques. Some common procedures of neurosurgery include:
Brain tumour removal - Brain tumour surgery seeks to remove abnormal cells present as well as preventative measures to stop further development and regeneration.
Craniotomy - This procedure may be needed for the treatment of brain tumours, hematomas, aneurysms, skull fractures or swelling of the brain. It involves removing a section of bone from the skull to gain access to the brain.
Ventricular shunt - This involves implanting a device that alleviates pressure on the brain caused by a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid. This excess fluid can be caused by overproduction, poor absorption by the blood vessels or blockages.
Spinal surgery - There are many types of spine procedures. Many surgeries involve a removal of nerves, strengthening of the muscles and fusion of the vertebrae. Some procedures may require removal of parts of the spine.
Endovascular Neurosurgery - These are less invasive treatments used to treat conditions of the blood vessels including aneurysms, carotid artery disease and stroke.
Taking care after treatment
Treatment on the brain or spine can be straining on the patient. Individuals can expect to feel tired and sore after treatment. It will take time and extra rest for patients to return to their normal levels of activity and energy. The exact road to recovery will depend on each procedure and patient characteristics. Patients should expect to stay at the hospital for a few days after treatment so doctors can closely monitor for any complications. Some patients may need to receive rehabilitation therapy in order to help recovery.
Be aware of the risks
Neurosurgery continues to become more advanced. Even so, surgery of the brain and spine is still considered a high risk surgery. Your doctor will discuss with you the risks specific to your condition and overall health. However, some common associated risks of neurosurgery include:
Blood clotting or bleeding of the brain
Seizures, stroke or coma
Brain swelling or infection
Temporary or permanent problems with speech, memory, muscle weakness, mobility, balance, vision or co-ordination
Herniated disc or nerve damage
As medicine advances, the success of neurosurgery and spinal surgery continues to grow. Depending on your treatment and condition, your doctor will be able to better outline your personal expected success rate. Success of neurosurgery can be temporary, or lifelong. In some cases, subsequent treatment may be needed to ensure longevity of results.
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There are many available procedures within neurosurgery. Your doctor will be able to advise you which, if any, treatments are right for you. For many people, neurosurgery is an option where p