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Neurosurgeon and a Neurologist: Understanding the Difference

What is the difference between a neurosurgeon and a neurologist?

If you are suffering from a condition of the nervous system, brain, or spinal cord, you may be searching for the best doctor to treat you. However, you may be unsure as to whether the specialist you need to find would be a neurologist or a neurosurgeon in Miami.

Read on to find out precisely the difference between these two medical specialties and which one you might need to help with your issues.

The Main Difference Between a Neurosurgeon and a Neurologist

The main difference between these two medical specialties is that while a neurosurgeon works in the operating room, a neurologist does not perform any type of surgery.

This means that a neurologist would be the specialist to see for understanding conditions such as neurodevelopmental disorders, learning impairments, disorders of the central nervous system, and others. On the other hand, a neurosurgeon is a highly-trained healthcare professional who specializes in performing surgery.

When should you schedule an appointment with a neurologist?

If you are having headaches, weariness, chronic dizziness, emotional confusion, difficulty with balance, and a generalized feeling of heaviness in the brain, you should schedule a consultation with a neurologist. During the first appointment, your doctor will get your medical history, and you may be sent to get an MRI or other diagnostic tests.

What are neurological disorders?

Neurological disorders can be either short-term or chronic conditions that affect the spine, the brain, and the central or peripheral nervous system. Over 600 neurological conditions have been identified so far.

Among the most common conditions that neurologists treat are:

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

  • Epilepsy

  • Parkinson’s

  • Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders

  • Chiari malignancies

  • Aneurysms

  • Brain malformations

  • Strokes

  • Neuropathies

  • Neuralgia

These conditions present a variety of symptoms that range from numbness and muscle weakness in arms and legs to problems with vision, coordination, concentration, or sensation. Unexplained seizures, pain, and paralysis are also attended to by a neurologist.

How are neurological conditions treated?

Neurological disorders can be treated via various methods which may include physical therapy, medications, and surgery. Patients start their journey by visiting a family or primary care doctor who then refers them to a neurologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Getting a clear diagnosis requires several tests, such as lab work for blood and urine. Also imaging procedures like X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, angiography, electroencephalograms (EEG), or ultrasound might need to be performed.

Once diagnosed, these conditions generally do not require surgery, although some, like epilepsy, may require the collaboration between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon.

When should you see a neurosurgeon?

If you suffer from conditions such as congenital impairments, need an aneurysm repair, a craniotomy, disc removal, a lumbar puncture, or endovascular repair, a neurosurgeon is a specialist you need. Those are just some of the procedures that these specialists handle.

What do neurosurgeons do?

These medical specialists diagnose and treat diseases of the nervous system, spine, and brain. They have at their disposal both surgical and non-surgical tools, which they apply based on the type of disease or injury. Although they are trained to perform extremely complex operations, it does not mean that this is their first approach.

Many times, they look for a non-surgical treatment before deciding on surgery. If surgery is considered to be the most viable option, they will use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. They may also be called in to assist in surgeries when the patient has an injury to the brain or spinal cord.

They may treat conditions like brain cysts and tumors, headaches, astrocytoma, acoustic neuromas, and more.

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Unsplash


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