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Neurosurgeon vs Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon

Why choose a neurosurgeon vs. an orthopaedic spine surgeon for your spine injuries?


In the United States, neurosurgeons learn about the diagnosis, nonsurgical and surgical treatment of spinal disorders during their residency training program that usually lasts for 6 to 7 years. After graduation, they can opt to do a post-graduate fellowship in spine surgery, which lasts for 1 to 2 years. However, even after graduation itself these physicians have already helped perform countless spinal procedures. Plenty of people have a wrong notion that they are brain doctors. They’ll be surprised to know that they actually perform more spine surgeries than brain surgeries.

Orthopaedic Surgeons

Orthopaedic spine surgeons have assisted in spine surgeries during their 4 to 5 year training. It’s possible for them to have been exposed to various surgeries comparable to neurosurgery programs. However, the focus may be in spinal trauma, joint surgery and sports medicine. They too can proceed to a post-graduate fellowship focused on spine surgeries after their residency.

Neurosurgeon vs. Orthopaedic Surgeons

Back then, many people would argue that neurosurgeons only specialized in the nerves, spine, spinal cord, brain and blood vessels in the skull. And that orthopaedists simply treated bone and joint problems and disorders.

However, this differences have diminished over the course of the years. Neurosurgeons are now learning about bone physiology, bone growth and fusions. While orthopaedic surgeons can learn more about certain neural structures. Hence, a neurosurgeon has been trained to perform spine surgeries during their residency whereas orthopaedists must receive additional training to become a spinal surgeon.

The verdict?

Although both may have had similar results in recent research when it comes to surgeries they’ve performed, neurosurgeons are highly recommended for complex spine surgeries and minimally-invasive surgeries. Where an orthopaedic surgeon has expertise on musculoskeletal system, plenty of the degenerating spine conditions and symptoms can be due to a compressed spinal cord and nerves. This is where Neurosurgeons come into play since their expertise lies on making sure that neural structures are unaffected during a surgery and alleviated from compression. During the neurosurgery residency, about half of their training was dedicated to spine surgeries, while expertise on the spine surgeries varies in orthopaedic study.

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