Neurosurgery is the specialized medical field concerned with the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of disorders that affect any part of the nervous system, which includes the brain, internal spinal cords, cervical spine, thoracic spine, lower back, and cranial cavity. There are many subspecialties of neurosurgery such as neurosurgery to diagnose and monitor brain damage; neurosurgery to monitor and treat Parkinson’s disease; neurosurgery to monitor and treat cerebral palsy; neurosurgery to screen and diagnose women with ovarian cancer; neurosurgery to examine and treat a patient after a traumatic brain injury; neurosurgery to examine and treat patients after a traumatic brain injury resulting in permanent paralysis; neurosurgery neurosurgery to screen and diagnose a patient that has drug abuse; and neurosurgery to prevent and treat depression. These subspecialties of neurosurgery are expanding very rapidly due to an increase in technology and globalization.
Neurosurgery requires both hands-on training and a comprehensive educational curriculum that should include at least an introduction to brain surgery, the concept of neurosurgery, basic principles of anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, patient care planning and clinical ethics. Many hospitals and private medical practitioners’ offices provide a highly structured training programme to prepare their doctors for neurosurgery. Some of these training programmes are accredited and are recognized by the American Board of Neurosurgery (ABN), and some have been successfully completed by thousands of doctors all over the world. The best training programme will be accredited by the ABN, have been written by an expert neurosurgery writer, and will contain a detailed preoperative planning stage, detailed post operative instructions and a certification examination.
After completing a training programme, most doctors who specialise in neurosurgery can go on to start their own private practice, either in hospital or in a private clinic. However, for those doctors who have completed an ABN approved neurosurgery consultant training programme, many hospitals and private practitioners’ offices will contract out the management of the consultant role to a lead consultant, who is often involved in clinical and research activities as well. The lead consultant may carry out additional specialist training on their own, whilst at the same time being responsible for coordinating the training and supervision of other doctors in the team. For smaller institutions, the lead consultant may only need to supervise a handful of doctors at any one time, rather than the thousands that are needed in a hospital or private medical practice. In larger institutions, the lead consultant will often be in charge of several consultants, so that each one of their areas of expertise is well managed and focussed.