Who is a Neurosurgeon?

This article will answer “Who is a Neurosurgeon?” in detail. It will discuss the job description of neurosurgeons, the educational requirements to become a neurosurgeon, the conditions treated by neurosurgeons and the techniques they use to study the brain. In the end, the article answers some frequently asked questions.

Who is a neurosurgeon?

Brain surgeons or neurosurgeons are trained medical doctors who diagnose and treat various conditions affecting the nervous system. This includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. They perform surgeries on the nervous system. 

However, they can also provide non-surgical treatments that include medications, steroids, as well as physical therapies. Usually, these methods are tried and tested before recommending surgery. 

Education Requirements

Educational requirements for neurosurgeons differ from country to country. However, in general, neurosurgeons must finish four years of medical school along with a general surgery internship. 

After this, they enter a neurosurgical residency program that is on average seven years long. Here, they are trained in all areas of neurosurgery. This includes trauma, tumour, paediatrics, as well as vascular surgery. 

When practising, neurosurgeons must be in touch with all the latest surgeries and treatment practices that are emerging at a rapid pace in the medical industry. 

Established neurosurgeons may also take the optional American Board of Neurological Surgery examination once they have gathered several years of practice and experience to receive board certification.

Neurosurgery is considered to be one of the most demanding areas of surgery and thus neurosurgeons earn the highest of all salaries in the medical field.

What are the pros and cons of being a brain surgeon?

Pros

You may get satisfaction after performing successful procedures as you’ve helped patients overcome severe problems. 

You get to learn various challenging and intellectually stimulating treatments such as removal of brain tumours, treating damaged brain injuries, and mending of gunshot wounds. 

Being a neurosurgeon gives you an upper edge as you are required to have rigorous education and training. This can limit the competition in the field. Before entering medical school, neurosurgeons have completed an undergraduate degree. This enables them to have a working knowledge of most subjects like chemistry and biology. 

Cons 

To become a neurosurgeon, require a lot of effort and time. It can take you about 15 years or longer to become a neurosurgeon. The process usually involves a Pre-med Bachelor’s degree, then four years of medical school, four years of internship, and one year of residency.

Neurosurgeons do not have a standard working shift. Their working hours vary. Working long hours at a stretch is also not new in this profession. This can lead to a lot of fatigue and stress. This can also limit one’s mental abilities. 

As a neurosurgeon, your work schedule will be extremely packed. This can make you sacrifice various personal activities like spending time with your family. 

What is the job profile of brain surgeons?

Neurosurgeons work with patients who have head injuries, brain aneurysms, herniated discs, brain tumours, spine tumours, and any problems with the peripheral nerves. 

Commonly, neurosurgeons perform more spine operations than brain operations, though, in emergencies, operations for head trauma are common. 

Neurosurgeons may also be likely to work as a part of a larger team that provides non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation in the cases of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

What conditions do Neurosurgeons Diagnose?

Neurosurgeons diagnose as well as treat conditions that may affect the supporting structures of the nervous system, such as:

  • The skull
  • Spinal vertebrate
  • Spinal disks
  • Blood vessels
  • Soft tissues
  • Protective membranes

The common neurological conditions that a neurosurgeon treats include: brain tumours, carpal tunnel syndrome, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak, chronic pain in the back or neck, essential tremor, herniated disks, and hydrocephalus, Neurosurgeons also treat congenital spinal column conditions like spina-bifida as well as the tethered spinal cord. 

Neurosurgeons also have expertise in treating pinched nerves, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, seizures, epilepsy, osteophytes or spinal bone spurs, spinal fractures, spinal stenosis, spinal tumours, spinal deformities including scoliosis and spondylolisthesis, and traumatic head, brain, neck, or spine injuries or damage.

What Industry do Neurosurgeons Work In?

Neurosurgeons generally work in the surgical department of hospitals that perform brain and spine operations. Some neurosurgeons specialise in specific areas of spinal cord-related problems. 

These include neck disorders, spinal cord injuries, and paediatric neurosurgery required for infants and children. Because the role is so specialised, neurosurgeons can be called upon for emergency situations like accidents, or head injuries. 

They may also be called on to perform outpatient procedures like pain-management therapies under a physician’s practice.

What are the salary rates in the USA according to years of experience for neurosurgeons? 

Neurosurgeons earn extremely well wages from the start of their careers as they have been trained for 15 years to reach where they are. After qualifying for a neurosurgeon, the salary will keep rising with time and experience. 

At 5 years or less, a neurosurgeon earns $301,000 approximately. With 10 years of experience, their salaries are $397,000 per year. 20+ years of experience leads to drawing a salary of $414,000 per year. The top 10% of neurosurgeons can even make around $873,000 per year and sometimes even more!

What are the technologies Neurosurgeons use to Diagnose Brain Conditions?

Neurosurgeries are successful because they use an array of radiology tools. These tools are used for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. They are as follows:

Computed Tomography (CT)

Computed Tomography (CT) is a computer-assisted X-ray technique. This creates 3D “slices” of the brain and the spinal cord. These are called tomographic images and give the clinician better and more detailed information than conventional x-rays. 

To form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient, these slices are collected by the machine’s computer, they are digitally “stacked” together to form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetic and radio waves to generate high-quality pictures of the brain, especially soft tissues. The images are highly detailed.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) uses radioactive tracers in order to evaluate the metabolic function of the nervous system.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) 

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique used for mapping the brain. This is done by recording the signals nerves send each other with the help of magnetic receptors.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

In this method, scalp EEG represents the aggregates of post-synaptic currents of millions of neurons. There are two types of brain activities that are reflected through the recorded EEG signals:  

The spontaneous EEG  is one that has been used in a clinical setting for a long time and is usually used to evaluate seizure disorders and reflects neuronal responses that occur in the absence of behavioural. This kind of process is yet to be used in cognitive neuroscience research. (Williamson, Kaufman, Lu, Wang, & Karron, 1997). 

Event-related potentials (ERPs) are associated with specific thoughts or stimuli. The amplitudes of ERPs tend to range from low, less than a microvolt to several microvolts, compared to tens of microvolts for spontaneous EEG. 

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

The fMRI is an indicator of neural activity that detects the amount of blood flow in each brain region. The images are taken in the form of cross-sectional “slices” that are obtained as the magnetic field is passed across the brain. 

These images in the form of slices are taken at a rapid rate and are imposed on images of the brain structure. These show how brain activities change over time. 

Conclusion

This article answers “Who is a Neurosurgeon?” in detail. It discusses the job description of neurosurgeons, the educational requirements to become a neurosurgeon, the conditions treated by neurosurgeons and the techniques they use to study the brain. In the end, the article answers some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: Who is a Neurosurgeon?

What is the personality of neurosurgeons like?

Neurosurgeons have the capacity to manage stressful and pressurizing situations. They like intense intellectual challenges and enjoy the intrinsic rewards that performing advanced life-saving surgeries brings them.

How Many Hours Does a Brain Surgeon Work?

The day of a neurosurgeon usually starts early around 5:30 and 7 am. They work around 50-60 hours a week, sometimes even 80+ hours. This is because they perform multiple procedures every day, some of them may range from simple treatments to complex brain or nervous system surgeries. 

What is the relationship between depression and neurological problems?

Depression and neurological problems are interrelated with one another. Individuals who suffer from depression may also suffer from other neurological problems such as forgetfulness, sleep-related problems, and other neurological challenges. Thus, there are many treatment options available for treating depression while taking neurological problems into consideration.

References

Williamson SJ, Kaufman L, Lu ZL, Wang JZ, Karron D. Study of human occipital alpha rhythm: The alphon hypothesis and alpha suppression. Int J Psychophysiol. 1997;26(1-3):63–76.

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