Neurosurgery includes the assessment, diagnosis and surgical treatment, prevention and recovery of disorders of the nervous system.

What is neurosurgery

Neurosurgery, also called neurological surgery, is a medical speciality associated with the prevention and treatment of nervous system disorders related to your brain, spinal cord, ganglion and peripheral nerves. Neurosurgery is performed by trained and expert neurosurgeons.

What exactly does a neurosurgeon do?

Neurosurgeons are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple disorders of your central and peripheral nervous system.

A neurosurgeon may be involved in treating or managing:

  • Brain, spinal and skull-based tumours
  • Head and spine trauma
  • Herniated discs and other degenerative spinal conditions
  • Brain or spinal infections such as meningitis
  • Strokes particularly due to brain aneurysms
  • Epilepsy
  • Movement disorders including Parkinson’s diseases
  • Some psychiatric disorders
  • Congenital nervous system malformations such as spina bifida
  • Cerebrospinal fluid disturbances including hydrocephalus

They may specialise in a specific area of neurosurgery including:

  • Paediatric neurosurgery – treatment of children includes congenital spinal defects and tumours.
  • Neuro-oncology – the management of brain and spinal tumours.
  • Functional neurosurgery – the management of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy and neuropathic pain syndromes.
  • Neurovascular surgery – complex aneurysms and abnormal or narrowed blood vessels.
  • Traumatology – severe, acute physical nervous system injuries including head injury.
  • Skull-base surgery – disorders of the skull-base and skull base tumours.
  • Spinal surgery – to correct spinal problems that are causing pain.

What are the types of neurosurgeries?

Neurosurgeons undertake operations for a wide range of conditions affecting the central nervous system spine and peripheral nerves including:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) – is a common procedure that involves removing a damaged or herniated disc from between two vertebrae. Fusion surgery may be performed at the same time as the discectomy operation placing bone graft and/or implants where the disc originally was to stabilise this area.
  • Craniotomy – part of your skull is removed, called the bone flap, to gain access to your brain. After the procedure, the bone flap is returned to its original position to protect your brain again. It is commonly performed to treat brain tumours, skull fractures, aneurysms, hematomas and infections and to address various levels of swelling within the brain.
  • Chiari decompression - a bone at the back of your skull is removed to improve balance and coordination if you have a defect in your brain that controls your balance.
  • Laminectomy - a minimally invasive surgery where a small portion of the vertebral bone or lamina is removed by making small incisions in your skin. It is often performed to treat back pain.
  • Lumbar puncture – is also called a spinal tap. A thin needle is inserted between the bones in your lower spine to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. It can help diagnose serious infections, such as meningitis; central nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis; or brain or spinal cord cancers. Sometimes it is used to inject medicine such as painkillers, antibiotics or chemotherapy or to remove fluid to reduce pressure in the skull or spine.
  • Epilepsy surgery – if medicines are not effective in treating epilepsy, then surgery may be required. It often involves removing a part of your brain that is causing seizures.
  • Spinal fusion – surgery to keep your spine stable if you have a deformity of the spine such as scoliosis, spinal weakness or instability, or your herniated disc has been removed and your spine needs stabilising. It involves fusing together vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. There are several different types of spinal fusion surgery including posterior lumbar fusion (PLF).
  • Microdiscectomy - also called microdecompression or microdiskectomy, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure for patients with a herniated disc in the lumbar area. It removes portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on your spinal nerve column.
  • Ventriculostomy - creates a hole within the cerebral ventricle of your brain for drainage. It is most commonly performed if you have hydrocephalus where it allows trapped cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to escape to your brain's surface and be absorbed.
  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt – also removes fluid build-up in your brain. A thin tube, called a shunt, is implanted into your brain to drain the excess fluid that has accumulated in your head.

What is the most common neurosurgery?

The most common neurosurgery spinal surgeries are decompression and/or fusion and surgeries for brain tumours and blood clots in your brain.

These include:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
  • Craniotomy
  • Microdiscectomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Spinal fusion

What is the difference between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon?

Both neurologists and neurosurgeons care for conditions that affect your nervous system including your brain, spine and nerves.

A neurologist is a specialist in neurology. They investigate and treat many neurological conditions including strokes, headaches, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, muscles disease and motor neurone disease. A neurologist is typically not able to perform surgery.

A neurosurgeon is a specialist in neurosurgery. They are able to perform surgery on your brain and spinal cord. They are also able to help you navigate through your diagnosis, your treatment and surgery and your recovery.

What are the costs of a neurosurgery treatment?

The cost of neurosurgery will depend on your neurological condition, the exact treatment requested by your neurosurgeon, and your Ramsay hospital of choice.

You will receive a formal quotation price for your neurosurgery procedure following a consultation with one of our expert neurosurgeons. This formal quote for your surgery will be valid for 60 days.

Ramsay is recognised by all major medical insurers. Neurosurgery procedures are covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to obtain written authorisation from your insurance provider before your surgery.

We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your neurosurgery yourself. These include:

  • Interest-free finance – requires no deposit and you can make monthly instalments at 0% interest.
  • All-inclusive Total Care – is a one-off payment at a pre-agreed price.
  • Pay as you go – a flexible funding option if costs are difficult to assess or you want to pay for your costs as and when they arise.

What is the recovery process after neurosurgery?

The recovery process after neurosurgery will depend on the exact procedure you have had.

For example, if you have a microdiscectomy, you can expect to leave the hospital the same day or within 24 hours and get back to your usual daily activities within a few days after surgery.

If you have a craniotomy to remove a brain tumour, you might stay in hospital for around three to ten days after surgery. It may then take four to eight weeks to recover from your craniotomy.

Neurosurgery at Ramsay Health Care

Ramsay Health Care offers the latest in neurosurgical care and the technically demanding procedures to treat complex neurological conditions.

We work with the highest calibre of neurosurgeons who access Ramsay hospital’s state of the art facilities to perform the latest treatments, rehabilitation and management techniques for brain, spine and nervous system conditions.

We fully understand that our neurosurgery patients are going through a difficult time. We offer the reassurance that you will be cared for by the very best neurosurgeons, neurologists and supporting nursing teams.

Our neurosurgeons assess and treat many neurological conditions, from complicated brain surgery through to more common problems such as epilepsy, stroke and sciatica. They offer convenient appointments without waiting at a local Ramsay hospital near you.

Patients often see our neurosurgeons if they are showing symptoms of extremity numbness, low back pain, chronic pain, a weak grip, persistent headaches, impaired movement and seizures.

Your safety is our priority. We have strict infection control protocols in place to keep you and our staff safe whilst visiting one of our Ramsay hospitals.

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