Neurosurgeons diagnose and treat conditions of the nervous system. The treatment for some of these conditions often involves surgery. These surgeries range from same-day outpatient procedures to brain surgeries that are very complex.
Here are three types of surgeries that a neurosurgeon performs.
1. Brain Tumor Removal
Brain tumors are either cancerous (benign) or noncancerous (malignant). If a benign brain tumor is not growing or is not causing any symptoms, the tumor may not have to be removed. However, a malignant brain tumor will require some type of treatment. One treatment option is to have a neurosurgeon remove the brain tumor.
There are many different types of brain tumors. Some of these include:
- Gliomas. Tumors that begin in the brain or spinal cord.
- Acoustic neuromas. Benign tumors that develop on the nerves.
- Medulloblastomas. Cancerous tumors that are common in children and start in the back of the brain.
- Craniopharyngiomas. Rare benign tumors that begin near the brain's pituitary gland.
All brain tumors are either primary or secondary. A primary brain tumor starts in the brain or in the tissues near the brain. Secondary tumors are caused by cancer in other parts of the body.
2. Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt
Also known as a VP shunt, a neurosurgeon performs this type of surgery to remove excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the brain's ventricles. The primary function of CSF is to cushion the brain and protect it from injury. CSF also flows through the brain to deliver nutrients to the brain and remove waste products.
When there is too much fluid or the flow of CSF gets disrupted, it results in a condition called hydrocephalus. This condition can cause the following symptoms:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Memory loss
- Impaired vision
- Cognitive delays
Hydrocephalus is more common in babies and older adults. VP shunts are successful in most cases, but the shunt eventually needs to be replaced.
3. Traumatic Brain Injuries
Some traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are minor and only cause short-term symptoms. However, other types of TBI can cause extensive damage. Without proper treatment, some TBI can be fatal. Examples of TBI include coup-countercoup, concussion, brain contusion, diffuse axonal injury, second impact syndrome, and a penetrating injury.
To treat severe TBI, here are some types of surgeries a neurosurgeon might perform:
- Removal of clotted blood caused by bleeding outside or within the brain.
- Repairing skull fractures, which may require removing pieces of the skull from the brain.
- Opening the skull in order to make room for swollen brain tissue.
In most cases, treatment for TBI often involves extensive rehabilitation following surgery.
To learn more, contact a neurosurgeon.