Ortho vs. Neuro Spine Surgery
Similarities & Differences
If you are considering spine surgery you may be wondering whether to consult an orthopedic spinal surgeon or a spinal neurosurgeon. Los Angeles is fortunate to attract world class surgeons in both specialties providing patients with many possible choices. The best surgeon for your condition is ultimately the one you feel most comfortable with. However, there are differences and similarities in the two specialties which should be understood before searching for your spinal surgeon.
Hunt Spine is fortunate to have both an orthopedic spinal surgeon and a spinal neurosurgeon. Both surgeons have been fellowship trained indicating the highest level of commitment to surgical excellence. They have years of specialized training in all aspects of spine health and have helped countless patients overcome spinal and neurological difficulties. As a team, they provide their patients with over two decades of specialized training in this very delicate area of the body.
A Short Background on Spine Surgery
Spine surgery was not a specific specialty of either neurosurgeons or orthopedic surgeons twenty years ago. Specialized fellowship training was not available and surgeons were trained through residency programs in each specialty. Spine surgery was part of an overall surgical training program.
At that time neurosurgeons performed most spinal cord surgery in addition to surgery within the brain. Orthopedic surgeons performed spinal deformity surgery such as scoliosis as well as joint and trauma surgery.Neurosurgery Treatments >
Specialized Training for a Spine Surgeon
Over the last two decades, advances in spine surgery have evolved the general specialty into several sub specialties. Specific fellowship training is now available for both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons so that surgeons who strive to be as qualified as possible may train beyond their residency program.
Fellowship training typically lasts two years following successful completion of a 6 to 7 year residency program. This provides an already highly skilled surgeon with an opportunity to completely focus only on spinal surgery.
As a result of the expansion of the fellowship program for spinal surgery, both surgical specialists are equally qualified to perform different aspects of spine surgery. Patients who have spinal cord or brain disorders naturally want to find a neurosurgeon, while patients with complex spine disorders usually consult an orthopedic surgeon.
Spine Surgery is Becoming a Specialty
While both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons are trained to treat disorders beyond spinal defects, many of these specialized surgeons are limiting their practice to spinal disorders. The precision needed for these demanding surgical techniques demands a high degree of training and commitment. At Hunt Spine, our surgeons have made that commitment both through their outstanding educational record and through the many presentations they make sharing their advances in technique.
Choosing your Spinal Surgeon
Providing the skills of both a spinal neurosurgeon and an orthopedic spinal surgeon gives patients the benefit of having both specialties available for consultations.
Choosing a spinal surgeon is a big responsibility which is why both surgeons spend as much time as necessary with their patients to ensure they are fully informed of their choices. Conditions such as herniated discs, fractures of the spine, spinal tumors and disc degeneration are treated by both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.
However there are still areas that are the domain of each specialty. Surgery within the spinal cord to treat tumors, cysts and conditions such as spina bifida are treated only by neurosurgeons. Pediatric and adult scoliosis, spinal deformities and kyphosis are treated surgically by orthopedic surgeons.
Confidence in your Surgeon is Vital
The best way of overcoming fear and uncertainty about spine surgery is to communicate with your surgeon until you feel confident with your decision. This may take several conversations with your surgeon reviewing your condition and the various choices you have. At Hunt Spine we never rush our patients into a decision concerning spine surgery. We believe that our patients benefit from a full understanding of the risks and rewards of any surgical procedure and do our best to help them with the decision making process.