Neurosurgeon vs. Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon
The main difference between fellowship-trained and board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons is in training. A neurosurgeon is trained to treat conditions of the brain and spine, while an orthopaedic spine surgeon specializes in treating the spine.
Neurosurgery is the medical specialization of diagnosing and treating patients with diseases or disorders affecting the nervous system. The nervous system is comprised of the brain, spinal column, spinal cord and peripheral nerves as well as the extra-cranial cerebrovascular system.
A neurosurgeon is a specialist who performs surgeries to treat conditions affecting the entire nervous system. Neurosurgeons divide their surgical practice between brain surgery and spine surgery. For example, a neurosurgeon could be completing a craniotomy one day and a disc fusion the next day.
Stephen R. Goll, M.D.
A neurosurgeon is concerned primarily with diagnosis and treatment. After the surgery is completed, the patient moves on to rehabilitation therapy, usually in another facility, and is not under the direct care of the neurosurgeon any more. Neurosurgeons typically work in hospitals, and once the patient is discharged, they may have minimal contact with the patient.
Orthopaedic Spine Surgeons
An orthopaedic spine surgeon, on the other hand, is a specialist concerned specifically with the spine or back and neck. An orthopaedic spine surgeon’s focus is much less broad. He or she is working on backs and necks all day, every day.
An orthopaedic spine surgeon follows the patient from prevention, to diagnosis, to treatment, through rehabilitation. After treatment, the patient will remain under the direct supervision of the spine surgeon. The orthopaedic spine surgeon follows the progress of the patient through physical therapy until the patient is fully rehabilitated.
Orthopaedic spine surgeons work in hospitals as well as in practices. Often the orthopaedic spine surgeon is affiliated with a practice but performs surgeries at the hospital or an outpatient surgery facility. After surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon will continue to have contact with the patient with follow up visits and follow the patient’s progress through rehabilitation.