Neurological surgeons, or more commonly known as neurological surgeons, are one of the most respected and highly-paid surgeons in the world. In fact, it is not only one of the most highly paid medical positions in the world, but also one of the most highly paid professions in the world, period. However, what makes a neurosurgeon’s work so glamorous? And what makes it one of the most difficult professions to get into? This article will try to help us understand the answers to all of these questions and more, with what neurosurgeons do.
First of all, neurosurgery is one of the most complex sciences in the world? Why? Because the organs in question, which includes the brain, brain stem, spinal cord, and parietal nerves, are without a doubt the most important organs in the human body. Of all the organ systems, the nervous system is the most irreplaceable. Modern medicine has helped give replacements to other vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, and stomach, and yet the brain and spinal cord remain elusive, and extremely delicate. Simply put, the human brain holds the key to what makes us, well, human. It is the control center to all of our actions and senses, both voluntary, and involuntary, and our thoughts, both conscious and subconscious. The brain forms the crux of all our functions, and thus a damaged brain would almost surely spell disaster for anyone. The spinal cord on the other hand, is the main superhighway that connects the brain’s signals and instructions to the rest of our bodies. If it’s severed, we are effectively paralyzed, and modern medicine still hasn’t found a way to heal torn spinal cords.
The curious thing about the nervous is how much work it does in such little space. In fact, while the brain is the densest organ in the body, all the other nerves are no thinner than wires. The brain is so jam-packed with neurons and tissues, that it’s no wonder it’s as functional as it is. As mentioned before, it not only controls our movements, but it is also responsible for keeping our body in balance, and for dictating our thoughts, and emotions. The brain achieves this by also housing several important endocrine glands, meant to secrete hormones that are designed to make our bodies react and feel in a certain way. Indeed, as the control center of the body in more ways than one, the human brain is truly the most important organ in our bodies, bar none.
As the nervous system is such a complex system, so it goes that the science of neurology, and by extension neurosurgery is also as complex as it is. The science of neurology is an ever-evolving one due to the complexities of the brain, and human behavior, and the fickleness of how our nerves work. For the longest time, humanity has studied human movements and emotions, and their connections with the brain extensively, forming hypothesis after hypothesis, theory after theory on how the mysterious vital organ works, and it’s only now thanks to MRI and CAT scan imaging that we have only scratched the surface on how the brain and nerves operate on a physiological level.
And that’s just talking about the physical aspects of the nervous system. It’s easy enough to conclude that the brain primarily operates by sending electrical signals through the neurons and synapses which then travel down through the body which manifests in things like movement. However, it’s even more of a mystery with how the brain manages to process complex thoughts, feelings, emotions, and ideas within a fraction of a fraction of a second.
Indeed, the human nervous system is a deeply complex function to study, and as such, a neurosurgeon’s education is one of the most stringent in the medical world. Aside from completing the four years of pre-med, and the four years of medical school, neurosurgeons have to undergo a whopping seven years of residency for neurosurgery. There, they have to learn all about the nervous system’s structure, functions, common diseases and disorders, and the safe methods on how to operate on it.
One of the most common cases that neurosurgeons are brought in for are accidents that involve brain trauma. As the head is often the most unstable part of the body, gravitationally speaking, our head and skull, and by extension the brain, is often one of the most vulnerable parts of our bodies when accidents occur.
Neurosurgeons are trained in the science of rescuing and repairing the brain and its tissues in the event of severe trauma. It should be worthy to note that thanks to the advances in medical technology, a damaged brain is no longer a death-sentence. Some of the most remarkable stories of a brain surviving serious trauma not only physically, but mentally as well, include the stories of Malala Yousafzai, and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who were both shot in the head by would-be assassins, although survived thanks to the brilliance of the neurosurgeons who attended to them.
Aside from head trauma, neurosurgeons also help in repairing damaged nerves outside of the brain, such as deep cuts on hands, arms, and legs that sever vital nerves. A severed nerve is effectively cut off from the rest of the nervous system, and as such can no longer move. But neurosurgeons step in to help repair and rehabilitate the connection in order for the patient to regain control of the affected part.
Brain surgeons perhaps have the heaviest responsibility in the medical world thanks to the nature of the brain. It is a scientifically known fact that while the cells in our body are capable of replicating themselves, keeping the body renewed, brain cells are the only cells that do not do that. What we’re born with is what we’re stuck with for the rest of our lives, and any damage done to our brains remains permanent on the cellular level.
As such, there is quite literally no room for error in the field of neurosurgery, perhaps more so than any other surgical field in the world. This is because that while there may be some room for error in other fields of surgery, this is only because of the aforementioned ability of our bodies to repair themselves and heal. So even if there were some errors committed in some lesser forms of surgery, it’s usually nothing that our body’s healing abilities can’t fix.
Such is not the case for neurosurgery. While the primary problem may have been fixed during the surgical process, any small errors may manifest in severe diminishments in the patient’s quality of life thanks to the damage in their brains and/or other nerves. Neurological surgeons bear the responsibility that their operations go as smoothly and as perfectly as possible to prevent this from happening.
Aside from accidents and trauma, neurosurgeons are also trained in removing brain tumors, treating strokes, and correcting abnormalities such as epilepsy, aneurysms, and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. But all of this goes back to the core principle of neurosurgery: Sheer perfection and precision.