DISEASES TREATED BY NEUROSURGEONS
Neurosurgeons treat lesions in the head. Abnormalities, such as brain tumors, and hematomas (expanding blood clots inside the cranium or skull) can exert pressure on the brain. This pressure can be injurious to the brain and often requires surgery to preserve brain function. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, drowsiness, and confusion. If the pressure is too great, a patient can be totally unresponsive or "in coma." Besides evaluation by a neurosurgeon, patients will often be evaluated with a CT scan, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scan or other tests. If these symptoms are present, a patient should be evaluated by his primary care physician and referred to a neurosurgeon. If the symptoms are severe, evaluation in the emergency room may be necessary.
The Neurosurgeons of Neurosurgical Consultants, Inc, Drs. Freed, Friedberg, and Gieger specialize in Neurosurgery and utilize all of the latest equipment available to treat brain tumors and other lesions in the brain. They also provide minimally invasive techniques to remove brain tumors, pituitary tumors, perform brain biopsies, remove blood clots, etc. See: Technology in Neurosurgery
(Traumatic brain injury can cause brain swelling which also causes increased pressure on the brain tissue.)
Problems in the spine are usually treated by Neurosurgeons. The more common of these are herniated discs and spinal stenosis.
Herniated discs are most often seen in the cervical spine (neck) and the lumbar spine (lower back). Discs are the soft tissue between the vertebral bodies (blocks of bones that connect as they stack and form the spine). When a disc herniates, it pushes through its outer, tougher tissue- binding and puts pressure on surrounding tissues, nerve or spinal cord. This pressure can cause injury to and dysfunction in the nerve or spinal cord. In the lumbar spine, the symptoms can include pain, numbness, weakness or paralysis in one or both legs. It can also cause loss of bladder and bowel control. In the cervical spine, pressure on a nerve can cause similar symptoms but involves the arms. If there is pressure on the spinal cord, the legs, bladder and bowel can be involved, as well.
Treatment for disc herniations can be conservative (non surgical) or sometimes requires surgery. Conservative treatments of the spine are physical therapy, stretches, exercises, Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications, epidural steroid injections (injection of a steroid anti-inflammatory drug into the spine), etc. Spinal surgery must decompress (remove pressure) the nerve and / or spinal cord and must maintain stability of the bones in the spine. This sometimes requires a fusion (spinal stabilization using bone grafting). Sometimes application of metal devices to "lock" the bones together are used to augment the fusion.
The neurosurgeons of Neurosurgical Consultants, Inc., Drs. Freed, Friedberg, and Gieger specialize in spine surgery and are leaders in minimally invasive spinal surgery. Microsurgery and endoscopic techniques are utilized routinely. See: Technology in Neurosurgery
A Peripheral Nerve Disorder is an abnormality of a nerve outside of the Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Cord). It is also called neuropathy. Peripheral nerves can be injured at any site but are most commonly injured by compression or trauma as they pass beside a bone or travel through a tunnel. Tests for Peripheral Nerve Disorders include an EMG (Electromyogram) and NCV (Nerve Conduction Velocities). These are electrical tests similar to EKG's done to evaluate the heart.
The treatments for Peripheral Nerve Disorders are usually surgical and performed by Neurosurgeons. The goal of the surgery is to decompress the nerve at its site of compression. The surgery is usually considered minor surgery and is done as an out patient (the patient is not admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay). Traumatic severance of a nerve is a more serious injury requiring surgical repair. There are other neuropathies that are related to medical diseases, such as diabetes. These are usually not treated with surgery.
An example of a compression neuropathy is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In this instance, the Median Nerve is compressed as it passes through a tunnel in the wrist. The symptoms often include numbness in the hand, electrical shocks from the wrist to the long finger, index finger or thumb, and weakness. The numbness can wake the patient from sleep and is often worse when the patient tries to use the hand at a level above the heart. Decompression of the carpal tunnel is usually curative. Another common compression neuropathy is the Ulnar Nerve at the elbow. The symptoms are similar to the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but involve the ring and small fingers of the hand. Some people notice this as an over reactive "funny bone."
More information regarding diseases treated by neurosurgeons is available at Patient Resources on the Neurosurgey On Call web site. Other informative sites are listed in our Navigation Bar (on the left).