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Spinal Surgeon or Neuro Surgeon??

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all -

I was just wondering which is "better" in your opinion... if one is better than the other. I've spent a lot of time reading the message boards and am so glad I found this site. I consider myself a very intelligent person ... but, being thrown into this new world has my head spinning!!!

I am having surgery (corpectomy at L3) and have decided to go with the spinal surgeon. I really didn't see any difference from my consultations with both and for various reasons just felt more comfortable with the spinal surgeon. Maybe because he performs spinal surgeries exclusively and is a professor and a great teaching hospital. He told me that he often operates with neuro surgeons. A neuro surgeon will perform an embolization the day before my surgery. A general surgeon will also be present during my operation.

Just curious what others opinion is.

Thanks for any input. :)


  • I had a ortho that specilizes just in spines. There are all different types.
    I went to a neuro to. To me there was not a difference either. Just ones own opinion on that one.
    Of course mine was a thoracic surgeon who only did thoracic surgery of the spine. My ortho did cervical and lumbar.
    So its pretty much who you connect with better on a dr /patient basis. His years of practice/ how many surgeries performed, there outcomes etc.

    You will see many people with different opinions on this.

    Painintheback hope that answered your question ;) ;) :)
    I have a ortho group with 16 drs. Only 1 specilizes in spines.

    Good luck let us know what you decide to do.
    Take care :)
  • I have a spine ortho, so far no surgery, but at least get along with him.
  • This questions came up several times in the old forum. Basically what is important that the surgeon - either ortho or neuro - had special training in spinal surgery, and they should be board certified in their speciality.

    At a more personal level, the surgeon should have a good reputation among other doctors, nurses, and his patients. He should be approachable, pay attention to his patient and his patients ahould have full confidence in him.

    Have several consultations, and decide the one you trust the most.

    This is a brief version of that complex answer,

  • In our area what differentiates the orthopedic spine surgeon from the neurosurgeon is that the ortho tends to perform a more aggressive type of procedure while the neurosurgeon is a bit more conservative.
    I am under the care of an ortho with special training in spine surgery.That's all he does and he is fairly young which is what I prefer....

    The most important factor is that he/she is devoted exclusively to spine diseases....
  • was an ortho surgeon who speciallized in spinal surgery and who worked as a team with a neuro surgeon so I got the best of both worlds.

    Good luck on your surgery,

    Christina >:D<
  • We are frequently asked on this message board “Which surgeon is better? An Orthopaedic Surgeon or Neurosurgeon? The truth is, depending upon your specific condition, probably either in many situations.

    As you can read here, both can perfom a wide range of spine surgery so, much more of an issue for most of us should be, not which type of surgeon, but the specific area of expertise, qualifications, practical experience and success rate in your type of surgery, of the surgeon that you choose. Also very important is choosing a surgeon who you feel you can communicate easily with.

    So, anyway, still what is the difference?

    Simplistically, neurosurgeons work on the nervous system, while orthopaedic surgeons work on “bones”. But this is too simplistic, as many of our spinal problems involve both the nerves (spinal cord) and bones (e.g. vertebrae). The following is a better “Surgeon 101” definition:

    “Neurosurgeons diagnose, evaluate and treat disorders of the brain and nervous system, such as aneurysms, head and spinal cord trauma, and brain and spinal cord cancers. To become a neurosurgeon, medical school graduates must complete one year of training in a general surgery residency program and five years of training in a neurological surgery residency program.”

    Orthopedic Surgeons
    “Orthopedic surgeons diagnose and treat disorders that impair movement, such as arthritis, fractures, lower back pain, joint degeneration, and shoulder, hip and knee injuries. To become an orthopedic surgeon, medical school graduates must complete one year of training in a general medical specialty residency, such as general surgery, internal medicine or pediatrics, followed by four years of training in an orthopedic surgery residency.”

    Source: http://www.sjo.org/FindaPhysician/specialties.htm

    The following perhaps gives an even clearer definition and comparison:
    Both Can Specialize in Spine Surgery
    Though things were different many years ago, today there are a large number of both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons who specialize in spine surgery. More and more, we are referring to each other as "spine surgeons" as the distinction between us is becoming nonexistent. Both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons specializing in spine surgery are skilled in taking care of disc herniations, disc degenerations, spinal stenosis, fractures of the spine, slippage of the spine (spondylolisthesis), scoliosis, bone tumors of the spine, etc. For younger patients, there is a subset of spine specialists that is devoted to the pediatric patient (usually defined by patients below age 15 or so).
    There are a few areas where there still is a difference. Only neurosurgeons are trained during their six or seven year residency to perform procedures inside the lining of the spinal canal called the dura. Thus, spinal cord tumors, arachnoid cysts, syringomyelia, Chiari malformation, spinal cord arteriovenous malformation, diplomyelia or diastematomyelia, tethered spinal cord, spina bifida or myelomeningocele, lipomyelomeningocele, tumors at the junction of the base of the skull and upper cervical spine, nerve root tumors, and a few other diagnoses still fall under the domain of the neurosurgeon. Similarly, both pediatric and adult scoliosis and other spinal deformities are still primarily treated surgically by orthopedic spine specialists.
    Source: http://www.spineuniverse.com/displayarticle.php/article2471.html


    Finally, of course spine-health.com also has lots of good information regarding selecting the right surgeon:


    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • My lead surgeon specializes in spine and neck. Since both areas have problems it will make it easier since he knows me. His assisting surgeon was the doctor who replaced my knee last summer. I didn't know about it earlier, but think it is funny now. All it would have done - besides make me laugh - is give me more confidence.

    It turns out the group of surgeons are trying to assist each other when they can so they can cover for one another when they have to be out. I know my knee surgeon has also done some work on shoulders.
  • all for your input. The results from my biopsy do not show any cancer, but the rest of the tumor will be biopsied when I have my surgery which is scheduled for Aug. 20.

    I'm super nervous/anxious but am glad that a date has been set. :SS
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