Neurosurgery is the branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment as well as rehabilitation of disorders that negatively affect our nervous system. Our nervous system is that part which coordinates the action of our body by transmitting signals to and from different parts of the body. It is responsible for the control of the body and communication between its parts. It plays the role of sensory, interpretative as well as motor function.
Our nervous system is classified into two parts –
1. Central nervous system – it is the part of the nervous system that consists of brain and spinal cord. It has central in its name because it integrates the information that it receives from all the parts of the body. It coordinates and influences the activity of our body. Our brain is housed in the cranial cavity whereas the spinal cord is located in the spinal canal.
2. Peripheral nervous system – peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia that are present outside the brain and spinal cord. The function of our peripheral nervous system is to connect our central nervous system to the limbs and organs. It mainly serves as the relay between the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body.
There are different causes which negatively affect our nervous system. The problems that occur may be sudden or can be degenerative. Some of the common causes are –
1. Blood supply problems which are due to vascular disorders.
2. Injuries caused to our head.
3. Congenital defects that are caused at birth.
4. Mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression or psychosis.
5. Exposure to toxins such as carbon mono oxide, arsenic, lead etc.
6. There are some degenerative problems such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease etc.
7. Organ failure such as heart failure, kidney failure, respiratory system failure etc.
One of the most common and severe conditions related to the brain is brain tumor. Brain tumor is medical condition in which there is formation of abnormal cells within the brain. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. If it is not contained or treated, it can prove to be fatal. Common symptoms include headaches which get worse in the morning, seizures, vision problem, vomiting etc. as the disease progresses, there may be unconsciousness. Brain tumor affects more than 2 lakh people in the world annually. A Tumor has the tendency to start in other parts of the body and then spread to the brain.
There are different corrective surgeries which are imparted according to the part that is affected. Some of the common surgeries are –
1. Endovascular surgery – it is a less invasive form of surgery which is used to treat problems that affect our blood vessels. One such condition is known as aneurysm in which there is swelling of blood vessels. Regional anesthesia is given before the start of this surgery. A small incision will be made near the affected area to access the blood vessel. A guided wire is inserted which will help in taking X-rays of the aneurysm. A catheter will be inserted which carries the graft through the blood vessels. This graft will block the flow of blood which will shrink the aneurysm over time.
2. Epilepsy surgery – the operation of brain for epilepsy is for the patients who have severe cases of epilepsy. There are different surgical techniques for epilepsy.
a. Temporal lobectomy – in this type of surgery, brain tissues in the temporal lobes that have been causing seizures are cut away.
b. Lesionectomy – this surgery is done to cut away tumors, abscesses etc that are causing seizures in our body.
c. Multiple subpial transaction – in this surgery, nerve fibers that are present in the outer layers of the brain are cut.
3. Awake Craniotomy – in awake craniotomy, surgeon removes the brain tumor while patient is awake to avoid brain damage. Local anesthesia such as lidocaine is given before the surgery is performed. The patient is awake before removing any brain tissue. Cortical mapping is done using a small electrical stimulation device to observe the condition of the patient after the tumor is removed.
4. Nervous system oncology – There are different types of brain and spinal cord tumors such as Astrocytic tumors, oligodendroglial tumors, mixed gliomas, ependymal tumors, germ cell tumors, craniopharyngioma, medulloblastomas etc. Some of the treatments that are imparted for brain tumors are – Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, breast cancer treatment, melanomia treatment, leukemia treatment etc.
It is recommended for patients who have failed conservative treatments for conditions such as disc herniation, spinal stenosis, deformity etc.
The risks include paralysis, weakness, numbness, bleeding, spinal fluid leakage, infection, etc.
Procedures like spinal fusion may take may require recovery time of about six months to one year.
Pain is inevitable after the surgery but there are medications to keep post-surgical pain under control.