What is a Neurosurgeon?

Apr 15, 2024

Understanding Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery encompasses a specialized branch of medicine dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions affecting the nervous system. At the forefront of this field are neurosurgeons, skilled physicians equipped with the knowledge, expertise, and surgical prowess to address a diverse array of neurological disorders.

Defining a Neurosurgeon

A neurosurgeon is defined as a physician specializing in the surgical treatment of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. These highly trained medical professionals possess a deep understanding of neuroanatomy and employ advanced surgical techniques to intervene in cases ranging from brain tumors to degenerative diseases of the spine.

Role of Neurosurgeons

Neurosurgeons play multiple roles in the healthcare landscape, offering expertise in a wide spectrum of neurological conditions. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Performing intricate surgeries to remove brain tumors and alleviate pressure on critical structures within the skull.
  • Addressing spinal disorders such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spinal cord injuries through surgical intervention.
  • Managing traumatic brain injuries resulting from accidents or other forms of trauma often requires urgent surgical treatment.
  • Treating degenerative diseases of the spine, including spinal deformities and arthritis-related conditions, to restore function and alleviate pain.

A neurosurgeon possesses expertise in various surgical and procedural techniques, such as:

  • Open surgery.
  • Minimally invasive surgery.
  • Endoscopic surgery.
  • Microsurgery.
  • Radiosurgery.
  • Endovascular surgery.
  • Chronic pain interventional procedures.

Neurosurgeons are also extensively trained in conducting tests essential for diagnosing and treating neurological conditions. They are proficient in operating and interpreting results from the following diagnostic machines:

  • PET (positron emission tomography) scans.
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG).
  • Electroencephalograms (EEG).
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans.
  • CT (computed tomography) scans.

Types of conditions Neurosurgeons Treat


  • Spinal Cord Compression
  • Foot Pain due to a Spine Problem
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)
  • Brachial Plexus Injury
  • Back Pain
  • Brachial Neuritis
  • Neck Pain
  • Spondylosis And Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Arthritis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Cervical, Thoracic, Or Lumbar Disc Herniation
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome


  • Arteriovenous Malformation
  • Cerebrovascular Disease
  • Pineal Tumors
  • Ganglioglioma Brain Tumor
  • Skull Fractures
  • Intracranial Hypotension Treatment & Diagnosis
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Chiari Malformation

Type of surgeries neurosurgeons perform

Neurosurgeons conduct various surgeries and procedures based on the specific area of the nervous system or related tissues and structures that are impacted.

Types of brain surgery include:

  • Shunt insertion.
  • Trauma repair.
  • Tumor removal.
  • Aneurysm repair.
  • Brain bleed (hemorrhage) stoppage.
  • Blood clot removal.

The difference between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon

A neurologist specializes in diagnosing, treating, and managing nervous system disorders affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nerves without performing surgery. Conversely, a neurosurgeon diagnoses and treats nervous system conditions using both surgical and nonsurgical methods.

When experiencing a nervous system condition or injury, individuals may initially consult a neurologist for assessment and diagnosis. If the neurologist deems surgery necessary or potentially beneficial, they will then refer the patient to a neurosurgeon for further evaluation and potential surgical treatment.

The Journey of a Neurosurgeon

Becoming a neurosurgeon is a challenging yet rewarding journey that requires years of learning, training, and experience. Following completion of medical school, aspiring neurosurgeons undergo rigorous residency programs in neurosurgery. Subsequently, they pursue further training in specific areas of interest. This comprehensive process prepares them for the complexities of neurosurgical practice.

The education and training to become a neurosurgeon is rigorous and extensive and includes the completion of:

  • Four years of pre-medical education at a college or university
  • Four years of medical school resulting in an M.D. or D.O. degree
  • One-year internship in general surgery
  • Five to seven years in a neurosurgery residency program
  • Some neurosurgeons complete a fellowship after residency to specialize in a particular area
  • Continuing education — annual meetings, conferences, scientific journals, research — to keep up with advances made in the complex field of neurosurgery

Visiting a Neurosurgeon

Your main doctor or your neurologist might suggest you visit a neurosurgeon if you have a neurological issue that needs a detailed look. Neurosurgeons know a lot about your brain, spine, and nerves, and the issues that can affect them.

Just because your doctor suggests seeing a neurosurgeon doesn't mean you'll have surgery right away. Instead, you'll get a thorough check-up, talk about your symptoms and medical history, and have tests like scans to find out what's causing your symptoms. Then, your neurosurgeon, sometimes along with other specialists, will talk to you about the best options for treatment, whether it's a treatment without surgery, surgery, or a mix of both.

What are some inquiries I should pose to my neurosurgeon?

Consider asking your neurosurgeon the following questions during your appointment:

  • What is your level of experience with this type of surgery?
  • Is there a recommended timeframe for undergoing surgery?
  • What are the potential risks associated with this surgical procedure?
  • What are the expected benefits of undergoing this surgery?
  • Can you explain the surgical process to me?
  • Would it be advisable to seek a second opinion?
  • Which other specialists will be involved in my surgical team?
  • Who will comprise my post-surgery care team?
  • How long can I expect to stay in the hospital, and where will I recuperate?
  • What is the anticipated timeline for my recovery and return to normal activities?
  • What preparations should I make before undergoing surgery?

Innovation and Advancement

Innovation is at the heart of neurosurgery, with neurosurgeons continually pushing the boundaries of medical science to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. From minimally invasive techniques to cutting-edge technologies such as intraoperative imaging and robotics, neurosurgeons embrace advancements that enhance surgical precision and patient safety.


In conclusion, neurosurgeons are indispensable members of the medical community, dedicated to the care and treatment of patients with complex neurological conditions. With their expertise, compassion, and commitment to excellence, neurosurgeons provide hope and healing to individuals facing some of life's most challenging health challenges.

If you or a loved one requires neurosurgical care, trust in the expertise of a qualified neurosurgeon to guide you through your journey to recovery. Southern California Brain & Spine Surgery is among the best spine care facilities in Los Angeles treating patients with spine problems for more than 10 years. Dr. Moksha Ranasinghe is the lead neurosurgeon, who is a top-rated spine surgeon in Los Angeles on websites like Yelp, findatopdoc.com, Google Businesses, and Healthgrades. You can schedule an appointment with her by filling out the contact form or calling (213)369-4583.