Neurosurgery (short for neurological surgery) is more than just brain surgery. It is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing and treating conditions that affect your nervous system, which includes your brain, spine, and peripheral nerves. Depending on the condition, your neurosurgery team may provide both surgical and non-surgical care.
Neurology and neurosurgery
Although they are closely related medical specialties, neurosurgery and neurology are different.
A neurologist focuses on diagnosing, treating, and helping you manage neurological diseases and conditions. Neurologists do not perform surgery.
A neurosurgeon focuses on diagnosing and treating physical problems with the nervous system using surgery or non-invasive techniques. They are often called upon in emergency room situations.
Neurologists and neurosurgeons work together
Given the overlap between the specialties, neurologists and neurosurgeons often work closely together. If a neurologist finds a physical problem with your nervous system, such as trauma or the build-up of fluid, then they may refer you to a neurosurgeon who can better diagnose and then surgically treat it. You may have both types of specialists on your care team.
What can neurosurgery treat?
- Trauma to the nervous system, such as after an accident.
- Aneurysms, blocked arteries, or other problems with the blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord.
- Spinal tumors and brain tumors.
- Infections and abscesses (collections of pus) in the spinal area or brain.
- Spinal problems that cause neck pain, back pain, leg pain (sciatica). These may be related to spinal cord injuries, arthritis, a herniated or ruptured disc, or degenerative disc disease.
- Epilepsy not responsive to medical treatment.
- Disorders of the peripheral nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Disorders of movement, such as Parkinson disease and tremors.
- Pain disorders, such as failed back syndrome or trigeminal neuralgia.
Your neurosurgery team
UCHealth specializes in care for disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.
Our neurosciences practice is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, and 70% of our Neuro ICU nurses have CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) or CNRN (Certified Neuroscience Nurse) board certifications.
Every step of the way, your UCHealth care team will collaborate with you and your family to ensure that our care strategies meet your health goals and ensure your quality of life. We use a collaborative approach through emerging and proven therapies to ensure you receive the best possible care, and we identify and address complications before they become critical.