Neurosurgery is the medical surgical specialty that treats problems associated with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves) and the neck arteries. A doctor who operates the brain and spine is commonly known as neurosurgeon. The functioning of the nervous system directly relates all its components. The brain is the information center of the body; controls movements and sensations, such as speech and understanding. Furthermore, peripheral nerves are the transmitters and receivers of orders from the brain to all the parts of our body, allowing us to talk, move, see, smell, etc. Peripheral nerves then act as electrical cables that carry information to and from the brain. In its path, the information must pass through the spinal cord, which processes the information to be executed by our body. The spinal cord is located within the vertebrae which are the bony discs (or bones) that form the spine. These vertebrae are the greatest protection of the spinal cord.
Diseases treated by neurosurgeons include:
Intervertebral disc diseases
Degenerative diseases causing spinal cord and/or nerve root compression
Cerebrospinal fluid circulation diseases (hydrocephalus)
Head injuries (intracranial hematomas, skull fractures, etc.)
Spine and spinal cord injuries
Peripheral nerve injury
Spinal cord, spinal and peripheral nerve tumors
The spine is made up of bones, muscles and other important structures (7 cervical vertebrae -neck, 12 thoracic vertebrae –thorax, 5 lumbar vertebrae, the sacrum and the coccyx). The bony part supports the body and protects the spinal cord which in turn controls muscle movement and facilitates the detection of sensations. Spinal pain can be variable and may come in a variety of intensities and forms, depending on its origin. Some of the causes are: disc injuries, spasms, muscle tension, injuries caused by sprains, fractures, accidents, falls, pregnancy, scoliosis, arthritis, infections, tumors, or stress, among others.
Symptoms of lumbar spine problems that may require surgery at some point include: pain that extends from the back to the buttocks or back of the thigh, leg or feet weakness, numbness in the legs, feet or toes and loss of bowel or bladder control.
Traditional lumbar spine surgery is performed under general anesthesia with an incision to remove the bone that surrounds and covers the spinal cord and the tissue, which are putting pressure on the nerve or the spinal cord. The orifice through which the nerve passes can be enlarged to prevent further pressure.
Today, surgeons perform more functional surgeries with better results for their patients through minimally invasive spine surgery, which represents a standard in modern neurosurgery. This type of surgery uses smaller incisions and allows to protect and preserve important structures of the spine, bringing greater benefit to the patient by restoring his capacity and physical performance in less time. In other words, minimally invasive surgery is the achievement of maximum efficiency with the least possible impact on healthy anatomy. One of the most widely used minimally invasive surgery techniques is tubular access using technologies such as the surgical microscope which allows the neurosurgeon to perform complex tasks within the column, via small 2.5 cm long incisions, which contributes to a much faster and much less painful patient recovery.
It is the branch of neurosurgery that treats brain tumors. Intracranial and spinal tumors can be located inside or outside the central nervous system. In most of them, one of the mainstays of cancer treatment is oncology surgery which aims to maximum possible tumor resection. In some cases, other forms of add-on treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and radiosurgery are recommended.
Centro International del Cáncer (CIC) at Hospital de Diagnóstico de El Salvador has all the necessary tools to deal comprehensively and accurately with brain and spinal tumors. It has the best specialists and the most advanced equipment in radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Patients are treated with a multidisciplinary approach, with the joint participation of the Neuro-Oncology, Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery staff in the therapeutic decision making process.
Treatments offered at the CIC are:
Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery of the entire body using Hi-Art TomoTherapy
Oncology surgery performed at Hospital de Diagnóstico.
Nutritional and emotional support