What is your understanding of the term neurosurgery? Well, if a vague blend of concepts is all that you have in answer to this question, you might as well save it. Instead, we invite you to embark on this fascinating journey that we are about to start. Curiosity about neurosurgery is at an all-time high, and we reckon it is about time someone discussed the nitty-gritties of neurosurgery in detail. But wait a minute. This is not going to be a discussion laced with all the complicating jargon. For your convenience, we are going to talk about neurosurgery in the most fun way ever! All we are going to do is mention the top ten most people don’t know about neurosurgery.
1-Numbers that matter!
More than 6.8[i] million people die annually because of neurological diseases, worldwide. In terms of mortality burden, the death rate is not far behind AIDS or TB. In terms of economic burden, the number is estimated between 12.3 trillion dollars for the 2015-30 period [ii]. But then again, this is a hypothetical projection, the actual numbers can be far greater than this. We do hope that the neurosurgeries can save as many people as possible though!
Neurosurgery dates back to 936 AD [iii]. Let that sink in! At that time, it was Al-Zahrawi, the famous Muslim scientist who could treat head injuries and skull fractures. Since then, the neurological interventions have become only more sophisticated with the passing time.
3-Main divisions of neurosurgery
There are two main branches of neurosurgery, general and specialized. General neurosurgery is the recommended procedure for treating conditions like neuro-trauma. The facilities for neurosurgeries are available in almost every level one hospital. Specialized neurosurgery, on the other hand, diversifies into more complex branches. For the sake of keeping things simple, we are going to discuss only three major divisions here, and that too briefly!
1- Vascular neurosurgery
This type of neurosurgery is more focused on aneurysm treatment. Procedures like CAE are almost an essential feature of vascular neurosurgeries.
2- Stereotactic neurosurgery
Also known as severing surgeries, stereotactic surgeries are focused on stopping the seizure spread. Epileptic foci, the brain area involved in conditions like epilepsy is the major area of attention in such a surgery. However, cerebral hemispheres and lobectomy are also common events in this type of neurosurgery.
3- Oncological neurosurgery
Central nervous system cancers, pre-cancerous lesions, and tumors of meninges are treated via oncological neurosurgery. However, the scope of oncological neurosurgery is not limited to these specialties only. Spinal cancers and gliomas are also treated via oncological neurosurgery.
Other specialized neurosurgery types include the skull, spinal, peripheral nerve, and pediatric neurosurgery.
4-Which conditions can be treated via neurosurgery?
We have mentioned a few neurological problems in the previous section as well, but here, we name a few more just to broaden your perspective. Neurosurgery can be one of the treatment options for diseases like multiple sclerosis, medulloblastoma, Huntington’s disease, head & neck cancers, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, brain tumors, lymphomas, and aneurysms [iv]. Other than these, neurosurgeries provide a glimmer of hope in case of spinal cord injuries, stroke, or spinal stenosis as well.
5-Which surgical instruments are used?
The progress that we have observed in the field of neurosurgery is mostly attributed to the touch of innovation added to the tools used in neurosurgery. From chisels to probes, forceps to suction tubes, we have seen the element of precision go up and up only. Then, automation courtesy of CAD-CAM and robots[v] has also contributed to the smoothness of the overall surgical process by a great deal.
6-Recovery after neurosurgery
The pain after neurosurgery can be immense, we are not going to mince words. The extent of pain can affect the duration of your stay in hospital as well [vi]. And needless to say, the longer you stay in the hospital, the greater is the risk of complications. How is the pain numbed? NSAIDs are the perfect choice for this purpose, but the specific condition will demand specific treatment and we are not fools enough to play the doc!
7-Qualification of neurosurgeon
We know that some of you are interested in this aspect of neurosurgery as well, and we are not going to disappoint you. The usual route of becoming a neurosurgeon involves the following set of steps:
1- Complete four years under graduation program.
2- Complete four years of medical school.
4- Seven years of residency
4- Pursue an additional fellowship in neurosurgery.
Quite an arduous journey, won’t you agree? This is precisely the reason why neurosurgeons make only 0.5 percent of all the practicing physicians in the US!
8-Global federations to follow
World Federation of Neurological Societies is a body of 130 member countries and has a consultative status [vii]. The organization also publishes a journal by the name of World Neurosurgery. So if you are keen on updates about neurosurgery, you can check out the doings of this organization.
9-Neurosurgery related topics
Again, the subheadings are too many to discuss. Neuroradiology, neuropathology, neuroanesthesia. So, we are going to mention a few popularly used techniques. For example, neuroradiology is all about computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and a few other techniques. As far as neuropathology is considered, it is the study of diseases of the brain and spinal cord.
We are not sure many of you are interested in this, but it is always worth knowing about the legends of the field. Some of the distinguished names in the world of neurosurgery include B.K.Misra (first-ever image-guided aneurysms surgery) [viii], Sir Victor Horsley (first ever neurosurgeon), and Harvey Cushing who is known as the father of modern neurosurgery.
Well, there you are then. Neurosurgery is certainly a fascinating topic to follow, the miraculous way in which neurosurgeons can save lives and bring people back to normalcy is quite amazing. And even though we would love to talk more about the topic, the time has come for us to bid you farewell from this discussion. Nevertheless, we do hope that you learned something if not everything new from this discussion!