Neurosurgeons are doctors that diagnose and treat conditions of the nervous system, spine, and brain. Neurosurgeons treat emergency problems such as brain injuries, strokes, and spinal cord injuries as well as birth defects, tumors, and a variety of infections and degenerative diseases.
Currently, there are about 4,000 practicing neurosurgeons in the United States.
Students who want to become neurosurgeons must attend medical school and graduate with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O). After graduation, doctors will need to complete a one-year internship program in general surgery and go on to complete a five to seven-year residency program in neurosurgery.
Some neurosurgeons may also choose to complete a fellowship program in a subspecialty of neurosurgery including:
- Pediatric neurosurgery
- Spinal surgery
- Brain tumors
- Neurovascular surgery
All doctors need a medical license in order to practice medicine in any state. Medical licenses are controlled at the state level, so requirements change from state to state. Medical licenses allow doctors to practice any type of medicine and do not signify that the doctor has specialty training in any one area of medicine.
Neurosurgeons earn board certification through the American Board of Neurological Surgery. To earn certification, neurosurgeons need to complete certain accreditations and take both a written and oral examination. Neurosurgeons will need to maintain certification by maintaining a professional standard, taking life-long learning classes, and eventually by retaking the certification exams.
Where Neurosurgeons Work
Neurosurgeons work in a variety of settings depending on their specialty. Most neurosurgeons work in private practices that are often affiliated with academic facilities. Some neurosurgeons work directly under the supervision of universities.
How They Help People
Neurosurgeons diagnose and treat a variety of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system including conditions like trauma, tumors, infections in the brain or spine, birth defects, stroke, and degenerative diseases.
Neurosurgeons work on both emergency and elective procedures in patients; they take scheduled surgeries, elective surgeries and also treat patients with urgent needs.
Neurosurgeons will complete a comprehensive look into a patient's medical history, and will conduct a full physical examination. Depending on the condition of the patient, the neurosurgeon will order diagnostic tests including imaging tests like MRIs and CT scans, spinal taps, and angiograms. The neurosurgeon will analyze test results to come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Neurosurgeons treat conditions like:
- Neurovascular diseases
- Brain and pituitary tumors
- Pediatric and other developmental disorders like spina bifida
- Functional neurologic disorders like Parkinson's disease and epilepsy
- Degenerative diseases
- Trauma injuries
- Strokes, aneurysms, and neuromuscular disorders
- Spine and nerve disorders like herniated discs or spinal cord compression
Neurosurgeons perform many invasive procedures for conditions that are chronic or take years to remedy, so post-operative care is an important part of the duties of a neurosurgeon. Neurosurgeons need to carefully monitor their patients after surgery, assess the success of the treatment, and communicate with the patient about future care.
The average salary of a neurosurgeon is $540,029.
Medical Negligence and Neurosurgeons
Neurosurgeons routinely complete high- risk surgeries, and they are usually the doctors that receive the highest percentages of malpractice claims. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 19.1% of neurosurgeons are named in a malpractice case, compared with 18.9% of thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons and 15.3% of general surgeons.
One reason neurosurgeons top the list is because there are so few. 19.1% of neurosurgeons equates to 351 surgeons. 18.9% of thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons equates to 437 surgeons, and 15.3% of general surgeons equates to 1,205 surgeons. The shortage of neurosurgeons has itself been the center of a malpractice case; in 2004, a woman's family sued a hospital after she died from a stroke while being transferred to another hospital to find an available neurosurgeon.
Most malpractice claims in neurosurgery center around elective spinal surgery. Procedures often listed in these cases include lumbar laminectomies for discectomies, posterior cervical laminectomies, and lumbar decompression for stenosis.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Negligent errors during neurosurgery can have devastating, life-long effects for patients. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while under the care of a neurosurgeon, you need to talk to an experienced malpractice attorney who knows how to build an effective malpractice case.
Gilman & Bedigian has a reputation for high-quality legal representation and excellent client care. We have a track record of success in earning maximum compensation for our clients.
Call today at (800) 529-6162 to schedule a free consultation and to begin your case.