There are usually painful conditions that we all suffer from at some point in our life. These range from headaches and migraines, dizziness, pain, and numbness, to back pain and sciatica, neck pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome from working on the computer keyboard for long periods. These are rarely life-threatening unless of course they persist over months and years and you need to rush to the neurologist. There are, however, typical neurological conditions that require urgent treatment through surgery. These afflict both, adults and children.
Neurosurgery is a medical specialty that involves the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders, diseases, and injuries of the brain, spinal cord, spinal column, and peripheral nerves spread across the body.
Routine Neurosurgery Procedures
When neurological conditions worsen over time to cause other symptoms that impair your movements, become life-threatening, and generally affect the quality of your life, it’s time to see a neurosurgeon. Only when medications do not heal the condition, and if the disorders need emergency intervention do doctors opt for surgery.
Some of the routine neurological procedures are of the minimally invasive type, which means the surgery is performed through a keyhole-sized incision without cutting open the affected part of the body.
This procedure is used by neurosurgeons to treat brain strokes, aneurysms, and tumors. It involves removing a flap of the skull to operate on the specific areas in the brain causing the aggravated condition. The flap is replaced after the surgery.
A brain stroke is caused by either loss of blood supply to the brain (ischemia) or bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage). It is crucial to restoring blood and oxygen to the brain in order to prevent any future physical, cognitive or mental disabilities from occurring. Both cases require emergency surgical intervention if medications cannot entirely treat them.
To relieve the pressure within the skull caused by the bleeding in the brain, the neurosurgeon seals off the defective blood vessel and redirects blood flow to other vessels that supply blood to the same region of the brain.
A brain aneurysm is caused by a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery in the brain, which results in an abnormal widening or ballooning. The weak area in the artery wall can cause the bulge or aneurysm to burst. If this happens, it can be dangerous and result in brain damage, coma, or even death. To prevent the aneurysm from rupturing, the neurosurgeon places a metal clip across the ‘neck’ of the bulge, isolating the aneurysm from the rest of the circulatory system by blocking blood flow.
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth in the brain that can cause multiple health problems. It can be cancerous and spread to other organs too. Neurosurgeons perform a keyhole craniotomy to remove brain tumors. This is a minimally invasive surgery where your surgeon makes a small cut behind your ear and removes the tumor through this.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where the brain’s activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour or loss of awareness or blankness. It can be caused by a stroke, severe head injury, brain tumor, brain infection, lack of oxygen during birth or even drug abuse and alcohol misuse.
If medications do not work, the procedures involve removing a minor portion of the brain which is responsible for causing the fatal seizures.
This surgery is the safest procedure to rectify a defect in the brain that controls balance. This condition is called Arnold-Chiari malformation. It involves removing a bone at the back of your skull causing the imbalance, to restore coordination and improvement in your balance.
Commonly known as a ‘slipped disc’, it can be an extremely painful spinal condition. It is caused when the spongy layers called discs between each vertebra or the bone in our spine, get pushed out of the spinal arrangement to irritate surrounding nerves. It can then cause pain, numbness or even weakness in the areas of the neck and back. The surgery is a common procedure that involves removing the damaged disc.
This minimal access procedure is also known as a spinal tap. It is primarily performed to diagnose the range of underlying diseases affecting your central nervous system including that of the brain and spine.
This procedure is conducted under general anesthesia and involves inserting a needle in your spinal region to collect the cerebrospinal fluid for testing. A lumbar puncture can diagnose viral, bacterial, fungal infections, and certain cancers of the brain and spinal cord.
This is a pain-relieving minimally-invasive procedure for those suffering from severe back pain. Small cuts are made in the skin to remove a small portion of the lamina or vertebral bone to give access to the spinal cord or to relieve the pressure on the nerves causing the pain.
Most of these common neurological conditions hamper your quality of life and disrupt your normal routine. Some like epilepsy can also lead to injury or lethal consequences since they can occur at any time when you are active. This is where neurosurgical procedures can restore your health and bring about a balance in your life.