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What Do Neurological Surgeons Do?

Neurological surgeons must be thorough and delicate in their examinations and treatments, as undiscovered disorders or misdiagnoses can often be life-threatening.
Neurosurgeons study and treat brain diseases and disorders.
A scalpel.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Neurological surgeons are medical professionals who diagnose, treat, consult, and operate on patients with various neurological diseases and disorders. Many surgeons have a broad knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human central and automatic nervous systems, and are capable of performing a number of invasive and noninvasive procedures. Some professionals specialize by treating specific brain disorders or cancers. Neurological surgeons must undergo several years of medical school and practical training before practicing independently in a hospital, surgical center, or private practice.

People with tumors, severe head injuries, or any number of neurological disorders depend on the skills of experienced surgeons to determine the nature of their problems and treat them accordingly. Neurological surgeons must be thorough and delicate in their examinations and treatments, as undiscovered disorders or misdiagnoses can often be life-threatening. Experienced neurosurgeons usually operate on patients by appointment, though they may be required to perform emergency surgeries in the event of a stroke or aneurysm.

Most licensed neurological surgeons employ advanced medical technology to scan for and treat physical disorders. A surgeon may use magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography machines to investigate a patient's brain. He or she interprets printouts to determine the presence of tumors or other unnatural developments. Some machines allow surgeons to track activity in the brain and spinal cord, so they may determine the location of problems. Neurological surgeons often use computer-controlled robotic equipment and laser devices to perform actual surgeries.

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To become a neurological surgeon, a person must fulfill lengthy educational and training requirements. A prospective neurosurgeon must typically obtain a PhD in neurosurgery from an accredited medical school, which usually consists of seven to eight years of classroom, laboratory, and practical instruction. Upon completion of medical school, a graduate usually works as an intern for about a year at a hospital or surgical center, where he or she observes experienced surgeons and receives intensive hands-on training. After an internship, a new surgeon assumes a residency position for five to seven years. A new surgeon must pass an extensive written examination at the end of his or her residency to gain a license to practice independently.

With an expanding population and the development of new technology in surgical tools and techniques, the demand for qualified neurological surgeons is strong. Those who are able to complete the exhausting educational and residency requirements usually find work with ease in major hospitals and specialty surgical centers. Experienced neurological surgeons often choose to open their own practices after building strong reputations for quality care.

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