August is Neurosurgery Awareness Month. Learn about neurosurgery and when you should consult a neurosurgeon.
While Senator John McCain’s recent brain cancer diagnosis has sparked national conversation about neurosurgery, it is a topic many Americans know little about. Yet, it’s one that is critical to treating a variety of medical conditions, not just brain tumors.
In recognition of Neurosurgery Awareness Month in August, Dr. Ronald Benitez, a board-certified neurosurgeon and president of Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS), shares the top five facts about neurosurgery you need to know:
- Neurosurgery is more than brain surgery.
Neurosurgery involves the diagnosis and treatment of disorders or injuries of the nervous system, including the brain, spine, cervical spine (neck) and nerves throughout the body. The most common conditions include brain tumors, aneurysms, stroke, concussions, pinched nerves, herniated and degenerative disks.
- Seeing a neurosurgeon may not entail surgery.
|Dr. Ronald Benitez (shown here), a board-certified neurosurgeon and president of Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS), specializes in the latest treatments for stroke, aneurysm, and other neurovascular conditions.|
As their name implies, neurosurgeons often perform surgery. However, neurosurgeons advise patients on how to achieve the best medical outcomes. Oftentimes they involve alternate treatment methods such as pain management or physical therapy – not surgery.
- Minimally invasive procedures are yielding positive outcomes.
When surgery is required, neurosurgeons are using advanced, minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. Using small incisions, customized instruments and innovative imaging techniques, doctors can access and treat highly targeted areas of the brain, spine and neck, minimizing disruption to the surrounding tissues. This means less damage, less pain and shorter recovery times.
- Selecting the right type of surgeon matters.
Patients are typically confused about when to consult a neurosurgeon versus an orthopedic surgeon. While they both treat many of the same body parts, orthopedic surgeons focus only on bones, muscles, joints and other connective tissue. They call in neurosurgeons when there is the possibility of nerve-related damage or complexity. When dealing with the central nervous system, consulting a neurosurgeon first can streamline care.
- Acknowledging neurological warning signs can help defend your health.
Acknowledging symptoms and quickly seeking appropriate care can help contain neurological damage and protect your health. Frequent extreme headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, prolonged neck and back pain are just some of the symptoms that may indicate the need for a prompt neurosurgical consult. Start by talking with your doctor and, in case of emergency, call 911.
“Some neurological conditions present no outward symptoms. For example, a smaller brain aneurysm may not produce any symptoms until it grows or ruptures and becomes an emergency situation,” adds Dr. Benitez. “Knowing the facts and options in advance can help save your life – of that of a loved one.”
For more information on neurosurgery, contact ANS at 973.285.7800 and visit ansdocs.com.