Neurosurgery is at the cutting edge of modern medicine and technology. Investigations of conditions of the brain and spine use advanced scanners such as CAT scans, MRIs and PET scans. These display detailed anatomy, can be used to create three-dimensional models, and allow us to map areas of the brain as you think and move, so that we know which areas to protect and preserve.
Much of brain and spine surgery is performed using powerful operating microscopes (Microsurgery) that magnify the operation and allow us to see the finest details, reducing normal tissue trauma. Pre-operative scans can be projected into the microscope to create a ‘heads-up’ view, which allows us to locate and define tumour margins.
Neurosurgery has blended with computers to allow computer-guided surgery called Stereotactic surgery. Computers help the surgeon locate the pathology of the brain and spine and direct treatment. This allows for more efficient surgery through much smaller incisions and is called Minimal Access Surgery.
Keyhole surgery is now also available for spinal surgery. New techniques permit operations through special tubes to allow much smaller incisions and reduce trauma to normal tissues. This can be combined with microscopes and computer guided (stereotactic) techniques to preserve normal anatomy and treat abnormal anatomy.
Neurosurgeons combine their skills with other specialists involved in brain conditions, such as Ear Nose and Throat Surgeons to treat tumours of the skull base, such as Acoustic Tumours. Neuroradioligsts specialise in treatment of brain aneurysms and vascular malformations. Treatment can sometimes be directed through blood vessels without opening the skull or in combination with surgery to address this life-threatening condition.
New advances are constantly being made in the treatment of brain and spinal conditions and BrizBrain & Spine is always at the forefront of these medical advances to ensure that our patients are receiving the most innovative care available.
Becoming a neurosurgeon involves one of the most comprehensive and difficult training programmes. Before entering a programme, one must complete medical school, an intern year, two years of supervised basic surgical training and a Part 1 exam (entrance exam). This is usually followed by two to three years of research and clinical experience in neurosurgery.
Applications can then be made for ‘advanced training’. If accepted, the trainee then enters a five year training programme. During training, regular assessments are made of clinical skill, judgement and surgical capability. At the end of this period an exit exam (Part 2), which tests all aspects of neurosurgical care, must be passed. Following this a ‘fellowship’ year is spent training in a sub-specialty area of neurosurgery.
This is usually performed overseas and it takes approximately 17 years of study and training to become a neurosurgeon. However neurosurgeons must continue to advance their skill and knowledge to provide effective, safe and modern neurosurgical care.