Neurosurgery Basics: A Starting Point

Neurosurgery Basics: an oxymoron, right?

Neurosurgery is one of the most complex and specialized fields of medicine. Neurosurgeons require six years of post-graduate training, and that’s after four years of college, and another four years to earn their M.D. degree.In the OR

Where to Start?

But everybody has to start somewhere: the med student doing a rotation in neurosurgery, the intern in the first post-graduate year, a physician assistant, nurse practitioner or neuroscience nurse. All these  come to neurosurgery with a general foundation in medicine and surgery. But the field of neurosurgery takes them into a new body of knowledge, another level of specialization.

So here are the basics, intended to introduce medical professionals and students to neurosurgical disorders and how they are diagnosed and treated. As an introduction to neurosurgery, the emphasis here is on the commonly seen problems and their typical presentation.Lumbar CT myelogram You can read about the “zebra” cases in the journals! Or just watch Dr. House on TV.

The imaging studies here are the ones ordered routinely in neurosurgical practice: MRI, x-ray, CT and Myelogram. Even the complications discussed are common. You’ll find generalizations here, as information is culled, grouped, predigested, and presented in a format that’s easy to understand.


Generalizations aren’t perfect, but they are a place to start. From here, you’ll spend your career finding the exceptions that prove the rule. But we start with the rule!

Neurosurgery Basics: a place to start, a place to begin learning neurosurgery.

Carter Cooper

Disclaimer: The information presented here is gleaned from my own experience over the years and from my own study of the introductory texts in neurosurgery and neuroimaging. For a comprehensive presentation of these subjects I refer you to those resources. And while I share my own case experience in hopes that it might be helpful to you, I am obligated to remind you that I offer no warranty as to the validity or reliability of any information contained here, and that you are, in all cases, responsible for your own learning, and your own treatment decisions.

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