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Stereotactic guided insertion of
DBS electrodes in neurosurgery
Activity sectors
Education required
Doctor of Medicine,
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (U.S. Trained Only),
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
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Neurosurgery, also known as neurological surgery, occupies a unique niche in the vast expanse of medical specialties. The intricate nature of the nervous system combined with advances in medical technology and knowledge has established neurosurgery as a distinct and crucial field. Neurosurgery deals with disorders affecting the nervous system and encompasses a range of conditions from tumors to trauma, and from infections to inborn malformations.


Neurosurgery (or neurological surgery) is the medical specialty that primarily focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders impacting any portion of the nervous system. This includes the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and the extra-cranial cerebrovascular system.[1][2]

Education and Training

The journey to become a neurosurgeon is long and demanding, requiring intense training and dedication. It necessitates years of education, followed by specialized training, often involving research components and super-specializations.

In the US

In the United States, an aspirant must first complete four years of undergraduate education, typically followed by four years in medical school. After earning a medical degree, they undergo a one-year internship, which is generally affiliated with their subsequent residency program. The neurosurgery residency itself is intensive and lasts for five to seven years.[3] During this time, many residency programs incorporate elements of basic science or clinical research, and some even offer an internal Ph.D. track. After residency, many neurosurgeons opt to further their expertise through fellowship training in specialized areas such as pediatric neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, and neurovascular surgery.[4]

In terms of competitiveness, neurosurgery stands out in the U.S. accounting for only 0.6% of all practicing physicians. The field is sought after by top-tier medical students, resulting in a match rate of less than 60%.

In the UK

The path in the UK starts with gaining entry into medical school to achieve the MBBS qualification (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). Depending on the student's chosen route, this can take 4–6 years. After qualifying, they embark on a two-year Foundation training program, covering a myriad of specialties including surgery. Following this, junior doctors apply for the independent neurological training pathway, which takes roughly eight years before they can practice as consultants.

Neurosurgical Methods

Advancements in technology and medical imaging have paved the way for more accurate and less invasive neurosurgical procedures. Some of the cornerstone methods include:

Modern neurosurgery often incorporates intraoperative MRI and functional MRI to improve surgical accuracy.

  • Microsurgery, a technique utilizing advanced microscopy, is also integral in various neurosurgical procedures, including aneurysm clipping and minimally invasive spine surgeries like microdiscectomy and laminectomy.[5]
  • Endoscopic surgery has revolutionized many procedures, such as endoscopic endonasal surgery for pituitary tumors, craniopharyngiomas, and the repair of cerebrospinal fluid leaks.
  • Furthermore, Stereotactic Radiosurgery, a collaborative effort with Radiation Oncologists, is used for treating tumors and AVMs. This involves techniques like the Gamma knife, Cyberknife, and Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery.[6]
  • Endovascular image-guided procedures are also gaining prominence for the treatment of conditions like aneurysms, AVMs, and strokes. These involve techniques such as angioplasty, stenting, and clot retrieval.[7]

Conditions Treated

Neurosurgeons diagnose and manage a vast array of conditions, ranging from infections like Meningitis to structural abnormalities like Spinal disc herniation. They treat traumatic injuries of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, manage tumors of the nervous system, and address vascular malformations like arteriovenous malformations.

Neurosurgery also plays a vital role in managing drug-resistant epilepsy, advanced Parkinson's disease, and certain psychiatric disorders. Surgical interventions can be crucial for patients with intractable pain due to cancer or trauma.

Prominent Neurosurgeons

Throughout the history of medicine, the field of neurosurgery has been graced with pioneering figures who have made significant contributions to the specialty. Some of these individuals are:

Prominent Neurosurgical Associations

List of Neurosurgeons (USA)

External Links


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