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What Is a Neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon is a specialist who diagnoses and treats brain, spine, and other nervous system conditions with surgery, including minimally invasive options. Neurosurgeons are also trained in non-surgical procedures.

The neurosurgical team at our Clinical Neurosciences Center offers fully coordinated resources to diagnose and treat brain, spine, peripheral nerve and vascular disorders (such as brain aneursym or stroke). Our neurosurgeons collaborate with neurologists, physical therapists, physiatrists, and other clinic providers to develop a comprehensive treatment and symptom management plan.

Neurosurgeon vs. Neurologist

Neurosurgeons and neurologists both treat people with conditions affecting the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system. Most patients will typically see a neurologist first for a detailed history and physical evaluation of their condition and diagnostic tests, if needed. A neurologist can perform a variety of non-surgical procedures.

However, if surgery is the best plan for treatment, a neurologist will refer a patient to a neurosurgeon for consultation. Your work with a neurosurgeon will center on diagnosis, surgical treatment, follow-up care, and rehabilitation. You may be referred back to your neurologist for ongoing care and symptom management.

Conditions Our Neurosurgeons Treat

Brain Conditions

  • Brain tumors
  • Stroke
  • Brain hemorrhage (bleeding on the brain, often due to a ruptured artery)
  • Aneurysm (abnormally enlarged blood vessel or artery)

Spinal Conditions

Other Neurological Conditions

  • Seizure (uncontrollable brain wave disruption that can cause changes in behavior and/or movement)
  • Epilepsy (recurrent seizures)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Head, neck, or spine injuries

When You Need a Neurosurgeon

Your neurosurgeon will work with members of your care team to help identify and diagnose specific conditions. You may also be referred to a neurosurgeon after a specific diagnosis has been reached or when your condition is not responding to non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy or pain medication.

Surgical treatments are often recommended:

  • when surgery is the optimal treatment available.
  • after more conservative treatments have not been helpful.

It's important to fully understand surgical treatments and to thoroughly discuss your condition with your neurosurgeon to create the best plan of care.

What to Expect at Your Appointment with a Neurosurgeon

Front Desk Check-In

You should arrive 15 minutes ahead of your appointment time to complete any necessary paperwork. This helps us dedicate as much time as possible to your visit. Please bring your insurance card and make sure our clinic has access to medical records or medical imaging done outside U of U Health. Our team will verify your medical coverage through your insurance provider. 

During Your Visit 

Your provider will talk to you about your medical history, go over any medical imaging, and talk with you in detail about your condition. You will discuss available treatment, including surgical, and any non-surgical options, if possible.

Your provider will conduct a physical examination to evaluate your condition, which may include: 

  • testing for sensation, strength, stability, and coordination and
  • pain assessment.

Your specialist will provide information regarding your diagnosis and answer any questions you have. If surgery is recommended, we will discuss the risks of surgery, expectations for the day of surgery, and any possible treatment alternatives. 

Next Steps

At the end of the appointment, you will have a plan of action in place for your treatment and care. Your specialist may also recommend:

  • additional tests or imaging studies to further evaluate your condition.
  • referral to another specialist such as a physical therapist, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, or pain management specialist.

Make an Appointment with Our Neurosurgeons

If you would like to see one of our neurosurgeons, please call 801-585-6065 or request an appointment online. Physician referrals are welcome but not necessary.

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