What Is Neurosurgery?
Neurosurgery is a branch of medicine concerned with the treatment (in most cases, the surgical one) of nervous system diseases. In addition to injuries and tumors, these also include nervous system infections, congenital anomalies, acquired neurodegenerative disorders, and many others.
To provide adequate treatment to every patient, foreign neurosurgeons work closely with doctors of related specialties. Neurologists, neurorehabilitologists, and specialists in rehabilitation therapy consult the patient, thus achieving the best results.
Cranial neurosurgery is the key branch, which is developing rapidly. Surgical treatment methods are being sophisticated: now operations are not as traumatizing as they used to be. The surgeon performs small incisions that heal quickly; microsurgical techniques ensure rapid recovery of patients. In Israel, Germany, Austria, and Turkey, close attention is paid to postoperative rehabilitation. A consistent transition from one step to another, supervised by experienced specialists, guarantees an excellent treatment result.
All major foreign neurology centers possess surgical microscopes. These devices enable doctors to remove all abnormal tissues with minimal damage to healthy structures, which is especially important when operating on delicate brain structures.
Microsurgery keeping pace with advanced technology for many years, the CyberKnife System, positive outcomes even in the severest cases—all this encourages people to seek treatment in foreign clinics. After all, any careless movement of the surgeon, equipment failure, or any other unforeseen situation can cost the patient’s health and sometimes even life.
When choosing a clinic for a patient, one should pay attention to its specialization and have a preliminary consultation with specialists, which includes an analysis of a specific clinical situation. It is difficult to find an expert as qualified as foreign ones in Russia since Europe has a totally different system of medical education and further professional development. Doctors of leading European clinics develop a treatment and further rehabilitation scheme in advance and provide their patients with full information about their health status so that they have no questions or worries.
Brain surgery is needed to treat:
- malignant and benign brain tumors;
- cranial nerve schwannoma;
- Ménière’s disease;
- intracranial hemorrhage;
- structurally abnormal vessels;
- acquired vascular disorders.
Trepanation and cranioplasty are the two basic types of cranial surgery performed abroad.
Trepanning is a surgical intervention that is performed to drill a hole in the skull, which is mainly needed for access to deep tissues. Such an operation is a step included in the process of brain tumor removal and also indicated for intracranial hypertension, which cannot be cured through other treatment methods.
After trepanning, a patient may develop the sinking skin flap syndrome combined with the disease consequences. These problems declare themselves through a variety of neurological symptoms that doctors cannot ignore. The patient becomes sensitive to temperature changes, gets an impaired limb motor function, and may develop epilepsy syndromes, aphasia, mental disorders, etc. The sinking skin flap syndrome is caused by sunken skin above the surgical site and the extreme atmospheric pressure affecting the brain through the bone defect. This results in impaired cerebrospinal fluid circulation and venous drainage; brain structures may also be damaged by the edges of the bone defect.
In foreign clinics that provide neurosurgical care, specialists use the full range of modern diagnostic and therapeutic methods. During the entire treatment period, doctors monitor the smallest changes in the health status of their patients and prevent possible complications.
Cranioplasty is used in case of skull defects. To see the exact shape and other features of the defect, including its site, a computer or magnetic resonance imaging with 3D modeling of the future operation is used. Abroad, neurosurgeons do not think the skull defect size is important to determine the indications for cranioplasty: the patient’s health status (including the mental status) and severity of neurological disorders are much more significant. Neurosurgeons always pay special attention to aesthetics, especially when the patient is a woman.
Various types of Xeno – and autografts can be used to cover the defect. The choice of material depends on many individual factors: the doctor selects the best option for each clinical situation.
Skull Base Surgery
This division of neurosurgery is one of the newest. Surgery in this area requires the involvement of a large number of specialists in the treatment process: neurologists, otorhinolaryngologists, ophthalmologists, resuscitation specialists, and others. Collaborative work enables doctors to extend their potential and achieve the best results in fighting for the patient’s health and life.
Ultrasound machines, state-of-the-art high-speed burs, microscopes, high-grade optics, advanced intraoperative navigation, and other technologies help doctors to save lives in European clinics every day. The technical process makes progress: health care financing enables hospitals to use advanced technologies to achieve the best results. Diagnostic equipment installed in healthcare institutions makes it possible to diagnose diseases early, which guarantees a positive outcome in more than 98% of cases.
In most cases, people consult a neurologist and a neurosurgeon about back pain of different severity. They may have long and ineffective non-surgical treatment, massage, or physiotherapy for osteochondrosis.
Osteochondrosis is the most common spine condition. The disease is diagnosed in people of different ages, and statistics show that more and more young people develop osteochondrosis nowadays: its signs are detected in people under 20 years of age on MRI images. The disease is accompanied by back pain, which often becomes chronic. Osteochondrosis aggravates over time; its complications are spondylosis, disc protrusions, and herniation, spinal instability, atony, etc.
A competent examination contributes to the effective treatment of spine conditions. In foreign countries, it always includes highly informative imaging methods, e.g. magnetic resonance imaging. A neurosurgeon and a neurologist examine a person suffering from chronic pain and decide what examinations they are to undergo. Further management is also discussed collectively: the doctors decide whether surgery is needed or non-surgical treatment can be of use.
In the 21st century, spinal surgery in specialized centers involves using a microscope and minimally invasive techniques. Surgeons use endoscopes, lasers, ultrasound, and high-frequency radio energy. The result of such operations is impressive: patients spend just 2–3 days in the clinic, after which they revert to an active life.
The doctor is to choose an approach during a neurosurgical operation. In some cases, open surgery is unavoidable, for example, when implants or other structures are to be delivered. After such operations, a rehabilitation course is developed individually for each patient to have a successful recovery. It enables the patient to consolidate the achievements, regain movement, and the quality of life.
Osteochondrosis and its complications are not the only diseases that neurosurgeons deal with. Hemangiomas and other tumors, myelitis, abscess, and syringomyelia are but a few examples of diseases that a neurosurgeon encounters in their practice.
This division of neurosurgery is aimed at helping patients with various pain syndromes caused by affected nerve endings (neuralgia, neuritis, repetitive stress injury, stump neuralgia, etc.). Neurosurgeons use laser technologies, electrical stimulation methods, and surgery to perform nerve decompression.
Rehabilitation is no less important than the operation itself, especially when it comes to the nervous system. Its efficacy depends on many factors including:
- the nature, severity, and site of brain damage and other structures of the nervous system;
- the time that had passed before the patient got professional care;
- participation of related specialists in the case management.
In Russia, rehabilitation is the least advanced branch of health care: it has just started to develop. Specialists abroad have already gained experience in postoperative management; they know effective methods of a quick recovery and welcome international patients. It is important not to miss the right moment to begin rehabilitation in order to restore most of the functions of the brain and spinal cord.
Neurologists, neuropsychologists, rehabilitation physicians, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and many other specialists participate in the rehabilitation therapy schedule development. Such a schedule includes remedial gymnastics, massage, physiotherapy, a balanced diet, and routine. Such a big set of procedures has a multidirectional effect on the body, promoting quick recovery of nerve structures. Postoperative patients get improved memory, coordination of movements, hearing, and vision and regain self-care skills after strokes and other serious injuries. Proper rehabilitation helps the patients to come back to normal in a short time, even those who had the most complex operations and serious diseases.